IVs for hydration have arrived at Iowa music festivals

todayAugust 28, 2023 5

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On the final day of the 2023 Hinterland Music Festival, it was drizzling and cloudy in Saint Charles. Los Angeles native Caleb Buchanan had been on tour with Clarie Chicha (aka spill tab), traveling everywhere from Australia and Austin, to Vancouver to Saint Charles.

Buchanan has been performing outdoors in varying and sometimes extreme temps. Because of all this stress on his body, he decided to test a new music festival fad — IV infusion for recovery. I caught up with him after his set on Sunday morning at the fest to tag along.

IV drips are not a new concept, as a medical procedure, but more and more, people are turning to them as a non-medical preventive measure against dehydration, electrolyte deficiency and hangovers. One of the places where you’ll find people suffering from all three of these issues, obviously, is at an outdoor music festival. In fact, some artists are now including access to IV infusions in their contract riders, as was the case in 2022 with headliner Nathaniel Rateliff.

It was his first time, and he admitted he was a bit nervous as he walked into the Hawkeye Medical mobile station backstage. “But, you know, hydration is fun,” he joked with a smile.

About 10 minutes into the infusion, I asked Buchanan if he would consider an IV on a regular basis as part of his touring amenities. He said he’d “be down, every once in a while.”

“I don’t want to get addicted,” he told me. “I mean, like hooked on it, ‘cause then I’m gonna rely on it when I’m not touring.”

To be clear, IV infusions do not contain any addictive substances and are composed of saline mixed with vitamins and minerals.

Buchanan eating some complimentary cashews during the infusion. Nuts help with the metallic taste some people experience due to the minerals and vitamins.

The infusion took about 25 minutes. Afterward, Buchanan enthusiastically said he felt “great” and told me the staff was “super sweet.”

“Like honesty, yeah, I feel amazing,” he laughed.

What’s in an IV infusion

Hawkeye Medical Services, based out of Truro, provides IV infusions for people at festivals and outdoor events all over Iowa, including RAGBRAI, the Des Moines Arts Festival and, of course, Hinterland. Co-owner Joe Sciarrotta says the drips can cost anywhere between $95 (for the “Hydration,” which consists of a liter of saline) to $170 for a “Myers” cocktail (a vitamin B complex, vitamin C and other minerals like magnesium and calcium.)

The total cost depends on what minerals and vitamins are added to the mix. There are nine popular choices of pre-made cocktails, with add-ons including vitamin C, B12 and zinc. Buchanan chose the “Recharge,” option, which consists of vitamin B, a mineral blend and an amino blend.

Outside of music festivals, Sciarrotta said the mobile service helps cure hangovers at bachelor and bachelorette parties. He said they often travel to hotel rooms and even offer a monthly subscription for those who like to party hard without feeling the full effects of a hangover. They have a name for that drip — “Recovery” — which consists of vitamins, minerals, headache relief and anti-nausea medicine.

Sciarrotta said COVID-19 brought in some additional business as well. He claims their “Immunity Infusion” — a blend of vitamins B, C and zinc — helps the symptoms.

Medical benefits of IV infusions

Dr. Hans House, a clinical professor of emergency medicine at the University of Iowa, notes that while IV fluids may make someone feel more hydrated and improve circulation, the casual use of them in non-emergency situations is not the most efficient way to do so.

“When someone is already healthy and otherwise well, you can achieve all of that through oral fluids, and that’s actually our primary recommendation,” Dr. House said on IPR’s Talk of Iowa. “We only use the IV really when we need to, and we’d actually prefer to give oral fluids to maintain hydration.”

He says it can be dangerous for people who rely only on IV infusions for their primary hydration, as it actually takes longer for IV fluids to hydrate the body. While IV infusions have a higher absorption rate, (meaning more of the fluid makes it into the blood) it takes more time to set up and start an IV — time that someone who is dehydrated could be using to hydrate orally.

Situations where IV infusions might be necessary, Dr. House said, would include those where the person in need is unable to ingest fluids due to vomiting, like in medical situations involving drugs or alcohol.

He says it’s also dangerous when people rely too heavily on IV infusions and neglect regularly needed hydration in exchange for pre- and post-festival IV infusions. In general, however, the risk involved with IV infusions is relatively low. Indianola IV, an infusion company in central Iowa, gives infusions to children as young as 14, as long as they weigh over 90 pounds and have parental consent.

Dr. House says the important thing to remember is that infusions don’t provide anything you can’t get from a Gatorade and a few chewable vitamins.

Sciarrotta notes that IV infusions aren’t for everyone.

“There are some people that take great care of themselves. They are up on their vitamins, minerals, fluids. There is a time and place for infusions.”

But, knowing all that, you can expect that IV drips will continue to grow in popularity, and you’ll likely see more companies pop up at music festivals and other outdoor events in the coming years. While it was still a festival in Iowa, Kosmic Kingdom offered IV infusion, and for the first time in 2023, we saw an IV drip infusion booth at 80/35 as well.

Lindsey Moon contributed to this report.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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