What is IVIG?

15 July, 2020

IVIg, or Intravenous Immunoglobulin, is a plasma protein therapy primarily used to treat immune system disorders.  

IVIg is prepared from the antibodies, or proteins called immunoglobulins, extracted from the plasma donated by healthy, voluntary donors.  

This extensively-used protein therapy is used to treat two kinds of immune system disorders.  

First, immune deficiency disorders, wherein your immune system fails to make an adequate amount of antibodies. IVIg then simply supplies these antibodies. These are extra antibodies that your body cannot make on its own. Patients who need IVIg for this reason rely on it for regular use.  

Secondly, it is used to treat immune system disorders which cause your immune system to attack your own body! For example, Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a condition which causes your immune system to attack your own blood platelets. Another example is Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA), a condition which leads to the destruction of your own red blood cells. 

  1. How is IVIg given? 

As the name suggests, IVIg is administered intravenously, or through the vein in the arm. This may take one or more hours to complete.  

Its dose varies from patient to patient and the condition from which they suffer. But in general,  

  • Less IVIg is needed to treat immune deficiency disorders. And as mentioned, people who need IVIg for this reason rely on it for regular use.  

  • More IVIg is needed to treat the second kind of immune system disorder, wherein your immune system attacks your own body. However, while the doses are large, they are not too many.  

Typically, IVIg is given in licensed clinics or hospitals. However, you can self-administer IVIg at home, provided the arrangements made are absolutely safe.  

  1. What are the side effects of IVIg? 

IVIg’s most common side effect is headache. Chills, fever, flushing, joint pains, and fatigue are some other, less common side effects. IVIg is also reported to increase the risk of blood clotting when given in high doses. To mitigate these side effects, doctors advise infusing the therapy slowly and ensuring you are well-hydrated.  

Lastly, there is a common misconception that since IVIg is derived from a mixture of plasma donations, it could carry an infection. However, plasma donations and protein extraction (a process called fractionation) are processes strictly carried out according to FDA-approved standards. The therapies are so purified that the odds of contracting a blood-borne infection are extremely low. Which is to say, the therapies are extremely safe.  

Give someone the chance to live a happier and healthier life. Donate your plasma. Find more information here

 

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