IV (intravenous) drips

The dextrose solutions used for intravenous drips in hospitals have enough residual corn to cause a reaction in at least some corn-allergic people. The National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health in the USA recognize this, writing that “Solutions containing dextrose may be contraindicated in [i.e. should not be given to] patients with known allergy to corn or corn products.”

At least one person allergic to corn was documented to have had a serious reaction to a dextrose drip. I also had an unpleasant dextrose drip experience in July 2009. After about 20 ml of the infusion entered my arm, it felt like a giant needle was stabbing me about 15 cm along the vein it was entering. About 50 ml of dextrose solution was infused in total. Luckily, aside from the sharp pain in my arm, the worst symptoms I experienced were an itchy throat and itchy eyes. Moral of the story: make sure that anything administered to you in hospital is prepared with saline only, not dextrose!

  • Corn allergy is rare, most people don’t know that dextrose comes from corn, many products in hospitals contain dextrose, and doctors and nurses often don’t read patients’ charts. For these reasons, I’ve found it useful to have “Allergic to DEXTROSE” written in large letters on my wristband, chart, and on a sign on the wall by my bed to remind tired hospital staff not to give it to me. I always read the ingredients on IV bags and ask whether pills given to me contain corn. I’d rather annoy a doctor temporarily than risk an allergic reaction.