Intravenous immunoglobulin infusions (IVIg) can be a life changing treatment for patients with myasthenia gravis, enabling patients live a full and nearly normal life free of side effects.
What is myasthenia gravis?
Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system and muscles. With this condition, your body’s immune system attacks the receptors of your muscle cells, blocking communications coming from your nervous system. For example, your nervous system may tell the muscles of your eyelid to open, but because the receptors have been damaged, your eyelid muscles don’t get the message.
The disease can affect any muscle you control voluntarily. If you have myasthenia gravis, you may not be able to control the muscles of your eyes, your face, neck and throat, or your arms, legs, fingers or toes. Most patients find the disease strikes their eyes first, known as ocular myasthenia gravis. About half of those people find the disease progresses, making it hard to speak or swallow, move your arms, stand up, walk, or climb stairs.
While the disease is rare—only 20 out of 100,000 people have been diagnosed–that’s no comfort if you are one of the few with it.
While there is no cure, the IVIg infusion treatment for myasthenia gravis can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Effective treatment has helped many people achieve remission, experiencing no symptoms. Others see their symptoms reduced so much that they are merely a nuisance they can live with.
How does IVIg for myasthenia gravis work as a treatment?
IVIg is a liquid taken from donated, screened and purified blood plasma. It isn’t known exactly how it works in treating myasthenia gravis, however it is believed that it affects how your body produces or uses antibodies. It may be that it causes your body to stop producing antibodies that attack nerve impulse receptors. Alternatively, it may stop antibodies from attacking the receptors. Quite possibly IVIg treats your symptoms in any number of different ways yet to be discovered.
While the treatment is being further studied, it is still frequently prescribed because it is safe and it works. Most patients experience a significant reduction of their symptoms, allowing them to go about the normal activities of life. As a treatment for ocular myasthenia gravis, it may also delay or prevent the onset of further symptoms.
How do you take IVIg?
IVIg is administered as an infusion treatment by a healthcare professional. The infusion travels from an elevated bag through a tube and into your body over a course of two to four hours. The process is painless for most people.
Most people need an infusion of IVIg every three or four weeks to maintain relief of myasthenia gravis symptoms. Your body slowly breaks down the immunoglobulin from the infusion over time, which is why you need a fresh dose on a regular schedule.
What can you expect after an IVIg infusion?
You will likely feel your best right after treatment when your body has a full dose of immunoglobulin. Over time, as it breaks down, you may feel the slow return of symptoms. Your doctor will adjust the frequency of your infusions based on how your body reacts to them.
Side effects IVIg for myasthenia gravis are rare and mild. Some people feel a bit of fever, joint aches, soreness in their muscles, and headaches shortly after an infusion. Rare side effects, including hives, tightness in the chest or a wheezing cough require immediate medical attention.
Where can you get an IVIg infusion?
Hospitals, outpatient treatment centers, and doctor’s offices can administer an IVIg infusion. While possible, these locations aren’t always ideal. Myasthenia gravis is a chronic condition requiring regular IVIg infusions on an ongoing basis throughout your life. Finding the right treatment solution – is almost as essential as the care itself.
Infusion for Health was designed to support continueous patient care and treatment, with the belief that our patients deserve the best. We have convenient locations throughout the country, and all of our locations provide white-glove level support, includingn fully private treatment suites complete with custom designed chairs and entertainment options, to the best nursing staff we ensure receiving treatment is as close to a luxury spa experience as possible.
We also work closely with your healthcare team to ensure the continuum of care throughout the treatment process.
It is easy to set up your treatments with us. Talk to your doctor or give us a call directly. We make the paperwork and any necessary referrals easy for you to get started.