What Is IVIG Infusion Treatment?
If you have been battling a medical condition that weakens the immune system, IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) infusion therapy may have been recommended as a treatment to help restore your antibodies.
IVIG is a liquid human plasma product made up of healthy antibodies and given intravenously (through your vein). Although not totally understood, IVIG passes immunity naturally, the same way a mother passes immunity to a newborn baby through breast milk.
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What Diseases Are Treated With IVIG?
IVIG treats various autoimmune, infectious, and idiopathic diseases:
- Immune deficiencies like immune thrombocytopenia
- Multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN)
- Chronic lymphocytic lymphoma
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP)
- Kawasaki disease
- Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
- Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)
- Neurological diseases like myasthenia gravis or multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Other rare diseases
As a new patient to this treatment, you may have questions regarding the procedure and possible side effects that you may experience. This quick guide discusses what to expect during your IVIG treatment and how to prepare for a comfortable infusion session.
Risks or Common Side Effects of IVIG
Headache or Nausea
Headache or nausea can be relieved with:
- Proper Hydration and Rest
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Steroids before or after infusion
Chills, Feeling Cold
Dress warmly with a comfortable blanket.
Fever, Flushing, or Flu-like Muscle Ache or Pain
Ask your doctor or nurse about these risks, and they may recommend a pre or post-medication. They may also recommend slowing down your infusion rate or changing to a new brand of IVIG.
Rashes can be treated with hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, antihistamines, and cold compresses. Talk to your doctor or nurse for more specific treatments.
How Does IVIG Infusion Therapy Work?
How Is It Delivered?
The immune globulin product is delivered through a:
- Catheter, or
- Central line through a vein, usually on the hand or chest.
Immune globulin may also be administered:
- Subcutaneously (SCIG), wherein it is injected into fatty tissue beneath the skin rather than directly into the vein.
An infusion pump is programmed to deliver the IVIG at a predetermined rate to ensure the body does not experience any adverse reactions.
Pre-medications are often taken to minimize or prevent side effects, including headaches, fatigue, and allergic reactions.
How Long Does It Take?
- IVIG infusion sessions may take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours to deliver the entire immune globulin product.
- SCIG may take between 2 to 3 hours and can also be self-administered.
Precautions During Treatment
Your nurse will check your temperature throughout the infusion session and measure your pulse and blood pressure to ensure you aren’t experiencing an adverse reaction to the Ig treatment.
How Often Is IVIG Infusion Therapy Administered?
Typically, IVIG treatments will be administered every 3 to 4 weeks.
Subcutaneous IVIG infusions (SCIG) injected into the fatty tissue under the skin require more frequent dosing (daily or 2 to 3 times per week).
How To Prepare for Treatment
Since IVIG therapy can take several hours, it’s best to schedule your treatment on a day when you have no other personal or social obligations. Leading up to your scheduled treatment, you’ll want to take in as many fluids and electrolytes as possible.
Being fully hydrated before your IVIG infusion can help minimize symptoms like headaches after the treatment.
IV nurses also administer pre-medications which can include Benadryl, Tylenol or Advil, and other medications to reduce the severity of the common side effects associated with Ig treatment.
You’ll also want to prepare for your treatment with an activity to pass the time. You can use the time to:
- Catch up on your favorite TV shows.
- Watch a movie.
- Play a video game.
- Read a book.
- Take a nap or listen to a podcast.
How Long Does It Take To Feel Better After IVIG?
It may take weeks or even months to see the effects of IVIG therapy.
Keeping Track of Your Treatment
Keeping track of your treatment and how your body reacts after each session can help your doctor identify solutions to improve the results of your treatment.
Remember to maintain open communication with your caregivers and doctors to ensure you receive the highest level of care for your IVIG treatment. If you have any additional questions, you may book a call about copay assistance here.