D5NS is a solution of 5 percent dextrose in normal saline (0.9 percent sodium chloride in water). In the United States, patients require a doctor's prescription before administration. Doctors order the solution for patients who need additional fluid and calories, often because they are unable to eat or drink.
At the normal drip rate, the dextrose in this solution adds approximately 400 calories daily to the patient's intake. Normally, the rate is slow enough that diabetics tolerate the medication well. Doctors prescribe D5NS as an isotonic solution for human blood. Such solutions do not cause blood cells to swell or dehydrate further due to osmosis from differences in chemical concentration in the two solutions.
Before prescribing D5NS solution, doctors take several factors into consideration. If this medication is not appropriate for a particular patient, there are other IV maintenance solutions from which to choose. Each patient reacts differently to fluid therapy. In addition to the positive effect fluid therapy provides, it also causes undesirable side effects in some individuals. Bluish skin, blurred vision, swelling of limbs, difficulty in breathing or a change in heartbeat requires immediate attention from a medical professional. Once the patient regains the ability to eat and drink normally, doctors usually discontinue use of IV maintenance solutions.