Most people don't realize that people who have autoimmune disorders aren't suffering from a "weak" immune system. They're suffering from one that is actually both too aggressive and misdirected. Their immune system actually attacks the wrong cells in their bodies and is always "on," instead of only attacking viruses and other bodily invaders.
Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) infusion therapy is used to treat a number of different autoimmune disorders and diseases, including chronic lymphocytic lymphoma, multifocal motor neuropathy, and other disorders that cause antibody deficiencies. It can help block your immune system's attacks on your healthy cells.
If your doctor has ordered IVIG infusion therapy, here are some tips you can use to prepare for your first experience:
1. Drink plenty of fluids before your appointment.
You need to be well-hydrated before your infusion in order for your provider to find a vein that will support the infusion without collapsing or unnecessary "pokes" of a needle. If, for any reason, you're on restricted fluids, talk to your doctor about what you should do before you consume more fluid than you're supposed to have.
2. Make sure you talk about your medications.
Your infusion team should know about all the medications you take -- including over-the-counter (OTC) medication and vitamins. Ideally, you should discuss this with the infusion team when your appointment is made, so that you can discuss any special changes you need to make prior to the infusion. However, you should also go over your medications again with the infusion provider before the actual infusion itself -- just to be safe.
3. Take time to make sure that you are comfortable.
More than likely, the infusion specialist will want to make certain that your vital signs are monitored during the infusion process, so expect that your blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and heart rate will all be checked periodically. Since infusions can take an hour or longer to complete, you want to be comfortable. Dress in loose clothing, like sweatpants and a comfortable shirt. Make sure that you have handy access to a pillow and a blanket if you need it, especially if you have trouble sitting in the same position for a long period of time or get chilled easily.
4. Find a method of distraction.
Anxiety is a problem for many patients who are new to infusion services. To relieve your anxiety, find another place to focus your attention or distract yourself. Many people find adult coloring books and colored pencils to be relaxing during infusion therapy. Others read, draw, write letters, or listen to music. If you have a smartphone, you can even download Netflix or Hulu and catch up on your favorite shows.
For more information about IVIG services, talk to your doctor today.