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What Are IVIg Infusions?

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A form asks if intravenous immunoglobulin is effective and a person with a pen in hand is about to check the box next to "yes"

Ohio Infusion Services offers patients a variety of biologic and immunotherapy treatments, including IV infusions, biologic injections, and IVIg infusions. Each one is used to treat complex, chronic conditions. If you are a patient who is considering IVIg infusion treatment, you might have some lingering doubts or questions about what's involved and how you’ll be affected. While your doctor can certainly help clear up any confusion, we want to take the opportunity to answer a few common questions that patients ask us about IVIg infusions. We hope that the answers will set your mind at ease and give you confidence as you move forward with your IVIg treatment. 

What Is IVIg?

IVIg is an acronym that refers to therapies that are intravenous (IV) and immunoglobulin (Ig) in nature. Put those terms together and you get IVIg. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapies are biologic drugs created using purified, sterile, human plasma from a collection of donors. Containing key components found in blood that support the immune system and can help the body to heal, IVIgs have been safely used for decades to treat various immune disorders. This type of therapy can assist people with weakened immune systems while not causing some of the negative side effects of other available treatment options.

Why Are IVIgs Given?

Under normal conditions, your body is able to make enough antibodies to fight off infections and illness. But if you have an immune deficiency or an autoimmune disease, your body isn’t able to properly regulate antibodies. Thus your natural defenses are compromised and illness typically results. Your own immunoglobulin levels may have been lowered by another treatment or by the disease itself. IVIg infusions generally treat complex, chronic conditions that have not responded well to oral medications. 

How Does an IVIg Infusion Work?

Immunoglobulin is an integral part of your blood’s plasma. It uses antibodies to fight off germs and disease. IVIg infusion therapy works by supplying your body with active immunoglobulins that help reduce the symptoms of autoimmune conditions and strengthen your immune system overall.

What Do IVIg Infusions Treat?

Ohio Infusion Services currently offers an array of IVIg infusion therapies that are mainly used to treat immunologic conditions along with rheumatologic, dermatologic, and gastrointestinal issues. Follow the embedded links to learn more about each infusion therapy and the conditions they help to treat.

If you would like to know where you can get an IVIg infusion, our helpful staff can assist you to locate our facility and answer any additional questions you might have.

What Are the Side Effects of IVIg Infusions?

Most patients tolerate IVIg infusions relatively well. Occasionally you might experience a low-grade fever, muscle or joint aches, chills, headache, nausea, or dizziness following the infusion. These side effects should subside soon after treatment. If they don’t let up, or if medicine does not relieve your symptoms, your condition should be taken seriously and you should call your doctor. Symptoms that might be evidence of an allergic reaction – like wheezing, chest tightness, or hives – are always a risk with new treatment and require immediate medical attention.

If IVIg infusion is not well-tolerated, Ohio Infusion Services does offer other treatment options. Speaking with your doctor and our skilled staff will ensure that we can administer treatment in the best way for you. In general, IVIg infusion is very safe, but as with all treatments, risks exist and serious complications are rare, but possible. A conversation with your doctor and the medical personnel here at Ohio Infusion Services can help to put your mind at ease.

Can IVIg Infusions Cause Weight Gain?

Some patients ask about whether IVIg infusions affect weight gain. Historically, there isn’t an association between this treatment and weight gain, but it’s also true that every medicine can react differently for every patient.

How Is an IVIg Infusion Administered?

IVIg infusion therapy is intravenous, meaning it is given through a vein in your arm. Trained medical personnel will use a needle to access your vein, and then prepared immunoglobulin will flow from a storage bag through a catheter tube and will be infused into your vein. For your first infusion, a physician or nurse will administer the medicine while monitoring how you tolerate the dosage – typically based on body weight. Future infusions will be given in a private space where you can rest and relax during treatment. Each treatment will take between 2 and 4 hours to infuse.

How to Prepare for an IVIg Infusion

While side effects are commonly short-lived and limited to the hours or days directly after treatment, there are some steps you can take to further reduce discomfort and make the treatment experience as smooth as possible. To prepare for your IVIg infusion, ensure that you are well-rested, adequately hydrated, and you might even consider preemptively taking medicines to ease pain or feverish symptoms. Remember that it’s vital to discuss your concerns and medication plans with your doctor before carrying them out.

Wearing comfortable clothing to your appointment and bringing favorite items along can also have a positive effect on how you perceive your treatment experience.

How Long Does It Take for an IVIg Infusion to Work?

The rate at which an IVIg infusion will take effect varies based on the individual, the medicine, the dosage, and the condition being treated. Results and timelines will vary drastically. You might feel better soon after your first infusion, since the immunoglobulin levels will be highest. But as a general rule, you should begin to feel better within a couple of weeks. 

How Long Does an IVIg Infusion Last?

One IVIg infusion will typically last for about 3 or 4 weeks. The immunoglobulin will break down over a few weeks’ time, so to keep your immune system strong, you will need another dose of the IVIg infusion. This will help to boost your immune system, keeping you healthy and fighting off infections. As the treatment is absorbed by your body and immunoglobulin levels decrease, you may start to feel weaker or more tired. This phase will often naturally coincide with your next scheduled treatment.

Trust Your IVIg Care to Ohio Infusion Services

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) infusion therapy is an important, successful, and safe treatment option for so many people who deal with immunodeficiency diseases. If your doctor recommends IVIg infusions and you'd like to pursue treatment, Ohio Infusion Services is here to help. We know that dealing with a difficult health condition is frustrating, so we make the process easy for you. While we wait for a referral from your physician, you can fill out a new patient form to let us know you're interested. Our staff will then reach out to you to discuss the next steps. 

We will do our utmost to make your treatment experience as worry-free, comfortable, and convenient as possible. Get in touch to learn more about our infusion services.