sodium chloride solution (intravenous)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

GENERIC NAME: sodium chloride solution for IV use, normal saline (NS), 1/2 NS


DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Our body cells are bathed in a watery fluid that contains primary sodium and chloride ions. These molecules play a vital role in maintaining proper fluid balance and keeping our tissues hydrated. Additionally, sodium is involved in many cell processes such as muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, and kidney function. Chloride ions are responsible for maintaining the acid-base balance. To sustain life it's very important to maintain these ions within a narrow therapeutic range.

Sodium chloride is available in a variety of formulations including:

  • nasal gel,
  • nasal spray,
  • nasal wash,
  • nebulizer solution,
  • ophthalmic (eye) drops,
  • ophthalmic ointment,
  • topical solution for irrigation,
  • diluent for injection,
  • topical spray, and
  • solution for intravenous (into the vein) injection.

Sodium chloride was initially approved by the FDA in 1951.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Intravenous sodium chloride is used:

  • Intravenous (IV) solution is the most commonly used preparation of sodium chloride, and is used:
  • To replace fluids when patients are not able to drink enough fluids
  • During the treatment of shock and other conditions in which additional fluids are needed to maintain blood pressure
  • During cases of sodium and chloride depletion, an IV hypertonic saline (3% or 5% sodium chloride solution) is administered to correct and replace sodium and chloride.
  • As a delivery vehicle for the administration of compatible injectable medicines and to flush IV lines
  • To replenish fluids and sodium chloride during periods of dehydration
  • In medical conditions in which additional fluids are needed
  • In various other health conditions.

SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects associated with use of intravenous sodium chloride include:

  • hypernatremia (high levels of sodium),
  • fluid retention,
  • high blood pressure,
  • heart failure,
  • intraventricular hemorrhage in neonates,
  • injection site reactions,
  • kidney damage,
  • electrolyte abnormalities, and
  • others.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/12/2015
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