Patients with a Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PIDD) may need to be treated with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). Many different preparations of IVIG are available from different companies. You should work with your doctor to identify which product will work best for you.
Many patients can receive immunoglobulin replacement in other ways, such as subcutaneously under the skin, instead of via an IV in the vein. Some patients begin with IVIG therapy and switch to other methods so that they can administer immunoglobulin at their convenience at home.
Immunoglobulin therapy products consist of sterile solutions of concentrated antibody proteins extracted from healthy blood donors. It takes thousands of pooled plasma donations to extract the immunoglobulins needed. The solutions are highly purified, treated to minimize the transmission of known pathogens, and sterilely packaged for use.
The length of the infusion depends on a few factors. IVIG generally takes about 4-8 hours for the infusion to be completed. This estimate only includes the time that it takes for the medication to go into your body; it will take additional time to prepare supplies and medications and to place the IV catheter. If your body reacts to the infusion, it will take longer.Intervals between infusions often range between days to weeks. IV infusions are typically done monthly and subcutaneous infusions are done weekly.
Most infusion medications are not painful to receive. The placement of the IV catheter can be painful to some people.
Side effects can develop with any intravenous infusion. Severe adverse events can occur but are rare. Some side effects can be reduced by premedication with certain medicines. Please check with your doctor to receive a complete list of the side effects of the medications that have been prescribed for you.
With IVIG, you may develop a headache during or after your infusion. Some people also feel cold during the infusion and often ask for a blanket. You may also feel more tired or have muscle aches or fever after your infusion and need to rest for a day before feeling like your usual self.
All forms of immunoglobulin therapy are effective, but an individual may tolerate one better than another. As many forms of IVIG are available, discuss these options with your doctor, and together you can try to find a product that works best for you.