What to Expect During Your IVIg Treatment
If you have been battling a medical condition that weakens the immune system, IVIg (Intravenous Immunoglobulin) therapy may have been recently recommended as a treatment to help restore your antibodies. As a patient new 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.
How does it work?
The immune globulin product is delivered through a catheter or a 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.
IVIg infusion sessions may take anywhere from 3-5 hours to deliver the entire immune globulin product, whereas SCIg may take between 2-3 hours and can also be self-administered. Throughout the infusion session, your nurse will check your temperature and measure your pulse and blood pressure to ensure you aren’t experiencing an adverse reaction to the Ig treatment. Infusion treatments can be administered in intervals of days or weeks depending on the recommendation from your doctor.
How to prepare for IVIg 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 much 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 show series, movies, play a video game, or read a book. You might also use the time to take a nap or listen to a podcast.
It may take weeks or even months to see the effects of IVIg therapy. 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 with your IVIg treatment.