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What is IG therapy?
Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) is the infusion of immunoglobulins into a vein. Subcutaneous IG therapy is the infusion of immunoglobulins into the fatty layer of tissue just underneath the skin. Both types of IG therapy are for people who have a delinquent immune system.
Where do immunoglobulins come from?
Immunoglobulins—which contain a wide variety of antibodies—are collected from human plasma that has been vigorously screened, tested, and found to be free of HIV infection and the hepatitis virus.
What are the different immune system disorders?
The immune system defends the body against harmful bacteria and viruses. People with immune system deficiencies have problems fending off bacteria and viruses. In some cases, the malfunctioning immune system may attack the body’s own cells.
Primary immune deficiency is one in which the immune system itself doesn’t function properly. Primary deficiencies are genetic and can be inherited. They occur when there are defects in immune cells.
Secondary immune deficiencies arise as a result of environmental factors, such as diseases. Cancer, radiation, and HIV can all cause impairment of the immune system.
Autoimmune deficiencies occur when the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. It isn’t clear why autoimmune reactions take place, but it’s believed that they result from an overactive immune system.
What can IG therapy do for patients with a primary or secondary immune deficiency?
IG therapy replaces the deficient immunoglobulins, thereby providing temporary protection against viruses and bacteria.
What can IG therapy do for patients with an autoimmune deficiency?
IG therapy increases the level of immunoglobulins in the blood. This regulates the immune system and keeps it from attacking itself. IG therapy can reduce or eliminate the need for treatment with drugs that have serious side effects. IG is also one of the few such treatments that don’t suppress the immune system.
What’s involved in an IVIG infusion?
A needle is inserted into a vein, and a solution of immunoglobulins is fed into the body through a tube. The process usually takes from 1 to 4 hours and is performed monthly.
What’s involved in a subcutaneous IG infusion?
A needle is inserted into the fatty layer of skin in the abdomen, thigh, back, or upper arm, and a solution of immunoglobulins is fed into the body through a tube. The process usually takes from 1 to 2 hours and is performed weekly.
Why is home an appropriate place for IG treatment?
Because IG treatment is usually given on an ongoing basis, the patient’s quality of life is a concern. At-home treatments can be administered on the patient’s own schedule and in a setting of maximum comfort.
Who is involved in administering IG therapy?
The patient, family members, home infusion nurse, and the patient’s doctor all play integral roles in IG therapy.
Accredo will coordinate nursing care. A nurse administers IVIG therapy and stays throughout the infusion to monitor vital signs and to lessen the chance of adverse reactions.
Subcutaneous infusions are administered by the patient or caregiver once trained by a nurse.
If I choose subcutaneous IG, what training resources are available?
Accredo has created a step-by-step guide for self-administration. As with all our therapies, an Accredo nurse is available 24/7 in case you need assistance. Within 72 hours of your infusion, a clinician will contact you to see if you’re experiencing any side effects.
Can IG be used with other therapies?
IG therapy can be used in conjunction with steroids, methotrexate, and other immunosuppressants. It can also be used with antibiotics if the patient is suffering from an infection. But IG should always be infused separately and never mixed in the same bag with other medications.
To find out more about possible interactions, check with your doctor or an Accredo pharmacist.
Are there risks associated with IG therapy?
You should review the package insert for details about the risks. The side effects may include chills, headache, fever, nausea, and chest tightness. These side effects are usually associated with the infusion rate or dosage. Pre-medication or slowing the rate of infusion can help to control them.