A number of treatment therapies may seem to utilize similar mechanisms in order to enact an effect, although the treatments themselves can be quite different. This is often the case when people refer to infusions and transfusions. Both of these treatments come under the same general heading, but they are used to describe different aspects of the similar processes.
As both an infusion and a transfusion are given through IV drips, it can be easy for people to assume that they are the same. Infusions essentially refer to when an outside substance is administered directly into the bloodstream, while transfusions refer to when the same substance, just from an outside source, is administered in the same manner.
In this way, the blood itself is the transfusion, since it is being transferred from one source to another, while the action of introducing the blood through the IV is the process of infusion. This also means that even if the patient is receiving their own blood that has been collected at a previous time, it is still considered an infusion. For cases where the infusion solely involves an outside substance, such as saline, iron, or other compounds that will mix into the bloodstream and be absorbed, both the substance and the process are referred to as an infusion.
The Uses for Infusions and Transfusions
Both blood infusions and transfusions are can be used in illnesses where purification of the blood can be beneficial to health. This may include situations where an overgrowth of microbes or cells is threatening physical function, and cannot be quickly controlled through direct medication or other means. Diseases which may require this action can include ones that are motivated by outside infectious agents, but can also include autoimmune conditions where an overload of white blood cells is attacking healthy tissue.
The earliest blood infusions included taking a patient’s blood, running it through a cleansing process, and then re-injecting this blood back into the patient. This helps in re-establishing balance through sending new messages to the immune system with the clean blood that has been introduced into the body. Continued treatment in this same manner could be necessary to fully ameliorate the condition.
Transfusions became a viable means of managing conditions as a greater understanding of clotting factors and blood compatibility was gained. In these cases, blood from another person is introduced to the patient. This action can also introduce new anti-bodies which can be effective in addressing numerous illnesses that arise from a lack of immune function or general deficiencies. The use of transfusions provides a means of fortifying a patient’s blood with that of another.
Further infusion therapies are used to put other substances into the blood stream, and this can also generate a fortifying response. In cases where an immediate balance to the physiology is needed, infusions can have a rapid but also lasting effect. This is because infusion therapies are meant to be absorbed on a cellular level, so that the action is very focused and thus more effective.
Choices for Treatment
Although not all conditions allow for a choice between an infusion or a transfusion when it comes to treatments, some conditions can give patients a different means of approach. This is particularly true for ailments such as:
- Crohn’s disease
- Low blood volume
- Conditions with internal bleeding
- Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
In these cases, patients may be given the choice to receive a transfusion of blood, or to receive an infusion of a substance such as Ringers solution, saline, iron, or other fortifying supplements. It can be important to understand the positive and negative points of either choice in order to determine the best course of action.
Transfusion Side Effects
Although blood which is used for transfusion has been screened, there are still some risks of infection when taking this path. Further significant side effects that can come with transfusions include:
- Immediate allergic reactions – this can be due to an incompatibility in antigens and antibodies across the blood.
- Development of long term allergies – this reaction can also be based on the new antigens that are introduced into the body. Allergies can range from sensitivity to certain pollens to anaphylactic reactions to venom or even food.
- Shorter period of effect – even in cases where there is no noticeable reaction between the transfused blood and the patient’s blood, the immune system will still expend energy in assessing whether the new cells are a threat. This can utilize many of the vital resources that were in the transfused blood, and lessen the time of relief.
Positive Effects of Blood Transfusions
Blood transfusions can also be seen as preferable in many cases, although this can depend on treatment approach for the condition.
- Less side effects – transfusions can give the body an easier transition into treatment as opposed to direct infusion therapy.
- Focus on balance – while the transfusion is meant to supplement the patient’s blood, it also encourages natural healing capacities to achieve a sustainable health balance.
- Possible long term immune improvements – although transfusions can create some allergic reactions, they can also eliminate some as well. This can happen when antigens from the transfused blood are integrated into the patient’s physiology.
Infusion Therapy Side Effects
Infusion therapies can also use a supplementary substance to fortify the blood in the same manner as a transfusion. However, dripping medication directly into the body can also have some less preferable reactions:
- Severe side effects – depending on the infusion substance, these can range from nausea and pain to a feeling of general discomfort.
- Does not always correct the condition – while infusions can provide some immediate relief, they are often not sustainable within the body. This can lead to the need for repeated infusions.
- Possible overdose reactions in sensitive patients – the large influx of medication can have an adverse effect that is not directly related to established side effects. This is frequently a form of systemic shock to the introduced substance.
Positive Effects of Infusions
For many people, the positive aspects of infusions are preferable to those of transfusions. These include:
- Shorter time for treatment sessions – infusions can take as little as half the time of a transfusion.
- Less risk of outside infection – infusions are sterilized and may not be hiding organic substances that can cause harm.
- Shorter period of recovery – most patients can return to normal function within a day of an infusion, while transfusion recovery can take two or more weeks.