IVIG, also known as intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, is the parenteral administration of healthy antibodies obtained from donors. It is given to manage various immune system disorders, including autoimmune diseases, inflammatory immune disorders, or other immunodeficiencies.
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However, similar to any other medical treatment, IVIG also has the potential to cause some side effects. In this blog, we will discuss whether weight gain is a side effect of IVIG, and how one can prevent or manage cases where they experience IVIG-related weight gain or sudden weight changes from the therapy.
Understanding IVIG Brands
Before discussing whether IVIG causes weight gain, it’s important to note that IVIG is available as several different brands, which means different manufacturers produce and supply IVIG under their brand names. But regardless of the brand, all of them include the same active ingredient, immunoglobulin. However, other ingredients and their amounts can vary depending on the manufacturer and brand.
Does IVIG Cause Weight Gain?
Sugar is one of the primary ingredients in IVIG that may cause weight changes, especially in cases when treatment with IVIG lasts a long time. Some manufacturers add sugar to their IVIG products, while others do not.
Sugar may be added in different forms, such as glucose, sucrose, or maltose. Maltose contains the least amount of sugar, while sucrose and glucose contain higher amounts of sugar.
It is known that sugar in IVIG can raise blood glucose (sugar) levels. Weight gain from IVIG is not a commonly reported side effect from people in clinical studies. But side effects can vary from person to person and also depend on several other risk factors, like metabolism, other medical problems, other medication, and the tendency to gain weight. Thus, the chances of gaining weight from IVIG are rare but might occur in some people.
In addition, IVIG products contain a large amount of fluid. Thus, fluid retention, or hanging onto fluid by the body, is another mechanism for how IVIG may cause temporary weight gain.
IVIG Brands That Contain Sugar
In the US, the following IVIG brands contain added sugar:
- Octagam (maltose sugar)
- Gammagard S/D (glucose sugar)
- Carimune (sucrose sugar)
IVIG Brands That Do Not Contain Sugar
The brands that do not contain sugar include:
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How To Prevent or Manage Weight Gain From IVIG
Weight gain can be a common consideration for obese or overweight individuals, especially when taking IVIG for the long term. To prevent or manage weight gain from IVIG, you should:
- Monitor your weight before, during, and after IVIG treatment. At any point, if you experience sudden or drastic changes in your weight, inform your provider right away. They may switch your IVIG product to a different brand. It should be noted that while weight gain from IVIG is rare, it is temporary if it does happen. Slight changes in your weight may be normal within a few days of ending the therapy.
- Before starting IVIG therapy, communicate with your healthcare professional if you’re concerned about weight gain. They can prescribe an IVIG brand that does not contain added sugar or high fluid content. Moreover, tell your provider if you are diabetic or are suffering from any other medical condition that raises your risk for weight gain, like kidney disease, heart failure, or obesity.
- Keep yourself well-hydrated during IVIG therapy. Adequate fluid intake helps flush and neutralize toxins and other excessive or harmful substances out of the body. It also helps prevent fluid retention, minimizing the chances of weight gain.
- Maintain a balanced diet, especially during IVIG treatment. Minimize the consumption of sugary, high carbohydrate, calorie-rich, low fat, and high sodium diets. Try as much as possible to stick to foods that are rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. Also, make sure to have a regular exercise routine.
This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your medical condition prior to starting any new treatment. AmeriPharma Specialty Care assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.
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Dr. Robert Chad Hakim, PharmD, was born and raised in Northridge, CA. He received his pharmacy degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy. The most rewarding part of his job is taking initiative to advance clinical programs that maximize impact on patient care. He has a board certification in critical care (BCCCP), and his areas of expertise are critical care, drug information, general medicine, and cardiology. In his free time, he enjoys traveling.