Immunoglobulin Therapy

by Sharon Hopkins

When is immunoglobulin therapy required?

Immunoglobulins are antibodies present in the blood produced by the immune system to protect the body from harmful agents such as bacteria, viruses or cancer cells. Immunoglobulin therapy is helpful for individuals unable to produce sufficient quantities of immunoglobulins. It provides the body with antibodies necessary to fight infectious organisms.

Some individuals develop what are known as primary immune deficiencies wherein the immune system is unable to function in a proper manner. These individuals are at risk of developing infections easily. Low immunoglobulin levels are an example of such a deficiency. Lung infections are common in people with this condition as the air contains several types of infection-causing bacteria and virus.

Does it works?

Immunoglobulin therapy is known to be effective in treating immune deficiencies and individuals who undergo the treatment experience a reduced rate of lung infections. In cases where lung infections do occur, they are likely to be less serious. It may also help to slow down the progress of lung disease or even stop it completely.

Immunoglobulin therapy offers only temporary protection since it partly replaces the amount of immunoglobulin that the body should be producing in normal circumstances. It, however, does not enable the immune system to produce more immunoglobulin. After preliminary examinations and tests such as a chest examination, lung function tests, chest x-rays and a CT scan of the chest, your blood will be tested to determine the kind of antibody deficiency you have. You may also be tested for hepatitis C since it is a likely cause of liver damage in individuals with immune deficiencies.

What is the method of treatment like?

The treatment is administered intravenously and may vary in duration from two to four hours depending on the amount of treatment prescribed. This may be done at a hospital, outpatient clinic or even at home. A session may continue for two to four hours. In case any side effects occur, the treatment may be slowed down. Since this therapy only replaces the antibodies that the immune system should be producing, it needs to be repeated. You may need to undergo therapy every three to four weeks.

Are there any side effects?

This therapy is known to be safe for most individuals. In rare cases, there may be some side effects during the treatment such as headache, rashes, fever or shivering. In case this happens, the treatment is likely to be stopped or slowed down. Individuals with chronic sinusitis or chest infections may be more prone to these side effects.




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