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IVIG Therapy

You've Got Questions. We've Got Answers. Find Them in the IVIG Therapy FAQs Below.

Why is IVIG therapy being prescribed for me?

IVIG therapy has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of several immune regulation disorders as well as many neurological disorders. For a more thorough listing, please browse IVIG medically indicated diseases. You have been prescribed IVIG therapy because you have not responded to other disease-specific therapies such as antibiotics, steroids and immunomodulatory agents (IMAs) or because your physician feels this is the most appropriate treatment choice for you based on your clinical situation.

What is Gammaglobulin (IgG)?

Intravenous immune globulin ("IVIG") is a product made up of antibodies that can be given intravenously (through a vein).

Antibodies are proteins that your body makes to help you fight infections. Each antibody made by your body is slightly different, because it fits like a lock and key to every foreign substance (such as a virus) that gets into your body. This is why you need a new flu shot every year; each year the flu virus is slightly different, and different antibodies (which the vaccine causes your body to produce) are required to protect you. Over the course of your life your body makes thousands of different antibodies. IVIG is prepared from the blood donated by thousands of people, to make a super-concentrated collection of antibodies.

How is IVIG therapy given?

IVIG therapy is given intravenously (IV). A nurse inserts a small IV catheter into a vein on your hand or arm. The infusion is started slowly and is then increased every 30 minutes until the maximum rate is achieved. During each infusion, the nurse will monitor your vital signs including your blood pressure, pulse and temperature.

It is recommended that you receive IVIG therapy for at least six months before deciding if it should be continued. This is a mutual decision made between you and your physician.

What are the side effects of IVIG therapy?

Side effects can occur with IVIG therapy and are most often related to the rate of the infusion. They are prevented from recurring with the next infusion by decreasing the rate and/or administering extra IV fluids along with the IVIG.

The most common side effects are headache, nausea, vomiting and abdominal or back pain. Side effects of IVIG therapy can be managed with over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and antihistamines (Benadryl).

Allergic reactions are rare. Wheezing, chest pain, difficulty breathing, hives, low blood pressure and rapid heart rate are treated with antihistamines, epinephrine, fluids and steroids.

Am I at risk for getting HIV or Hepatitis from IVIG therapy?

The FDA has imposed certain manufacturing guidelines, which require companies to take steps that will inactivate viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. Products are treated with detergents and solvents that kill organisms. There are also enforced donor-screening requirements. Before people become blood donors, they are screened by medical examination and tested for the presence of these and other viruses.

Can I take other medications with IVIG therapy?

Yes. In fact, most patients are on other disease-specific therapies in conjunction with IVIG therapy.

Is IVIG therapy safe during pregnancy?

IVIG therapy is safe to receive during pregnancy and is often administered after delivery to deter relapse events that may occur in the post-partum period.

IVIG therapy is safe to receive during pregnancy in fact it is used with high risk pregnancies to prevent loss and is often administered after delivery to prevent relapse events in Multiple Sclerosis that may occur in the post-partum period. IVIG is also used in conjunction with IVF procedures to improve patient outcomes.

How do I prepare for my IVIG therapy infusion?

Patients need to be well hydrated and are advised to increase fluid intake the day prior to and the day of IVIG therapy treatment. This will help start an IV and also decrease the chance of side effects. Please avoid caffeine, as this is a diuretic and will actually cause dehydration.

If you would like information about general home infusion therapy for various other conditions, please visit our Home Infusion FAQs.

If you don't see your IVIG questions here in our IVIG FAQs, or would like more information about a particular answer, please contact us at 1-800-746-9089. Press zero to speak to an American Outcomes Management (AOM) staff member 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday. We will be happy to answer all of your questions about AOM and our IVIG therapy.

If you are a physician and would like to refer a patient to AOM for IVIG therapy and have any further inquiries about our IVIG therapy FAQs, please contact us at 1-800-746-9089.