Immune Globulin Intravenous (IVIG) (Generic Name)

Other Names: Carimune; Gammagard S/D, Gamunex

About This Drug

IVIG is made up of antibodies called immunoglobulins. It is used to prevent or reduce the severity of infections in people with a weak immune system. Also, it is given to increase platelets in people with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). This drug is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • High blood pressure. Your doctor will check your blood pressure as needed.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Backache
  • Rash or itching

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Blood clots. A blood clot in your leg may cause your leg to swell, appear red and warm, and/or cause pain. A blood clot in your lungs may cause trouble breathing, pain when breathing, and/or chest pain.
  • Heart attack
  • Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden bad headache with no known cause.  If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911. 
  • Feeling short of breath or having trouble breathing
  • This drug may affect how your kidneys work. Your kidney function will be checked as needed.

Allergic Reactions

Serious allergic reactions including anaphylaxis are rare. While you are getting this drug in your vein (IV), tell your nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • trouble catching your breath
  • feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling
  • feeling your heart beat quickly  or in a not normal way (palpitations)
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • flushing, itching, rash, and/or hives

Treating Side Effects 

  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movements you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body due to losing too much fluid).
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen joint, muscle, or back pain.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, nasal congestion and/or sinus symptoms.
  • If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.
  • During the IV infusion please tell your nurse right away if you have any pain, redness, or swelling at the site of the IV infusion.

Important Instructions

Let your doctor know if you have had any recent vaccinations. Talk to your doctor before getting vaccines during or after treatment with IVIG.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of IVIG with food. This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Pain when passing urine; blood in urine
  • Pain in your lower back or side
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times in one day
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and come back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes pain is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, mostly on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, bad headache with no known cause.  If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911. 

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Change in hearing, ringing in the ears
  • Decreased urine
  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, or feet
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Headache that does not go away
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities

Sexual Problems and Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: It is not known if this drug may harm an unborn child.  For this reason, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while getting this drug.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.
  • Sexual problems and reproduction concerns may happen. In men and women both, this drug may affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your therapy. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking. 
  • Genetic counseling is available for you to talk about the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. Also, a genetic counselor can look at the possible risk of problems in the unborn baby due to this medicine if an exposure happens during pregnancy.

Revised November 2014

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