Medication and Replacement Therapy
Your doctor may prescribe medications or other treatments to make you feel better and to protect you from foreign invaders. Medications and treatments must be chosen for your individual needs. They may need to be adjusted when your needs change. Medications and treatments for immune deficiencies include:
- Antibiotics to fight and prevent infection
- Antibody (IgG) replacement
- Other treatments
Antibiotics are medications that fight infection. They are used when signs of infection are present. Your doctor may take a sample of secretions from the infected area to determine what antibiotic is the best choice. Antibiotics may also be used to prevent infection. Talk with your doctor about the possible side effects of antibiotics.
Antibody replacement with gamma globulin replaces IgG in the blood. Gamma globulin given through a needle into a vein is called intravenous immune globulin (IVIG). Gamma globulin given through a needle into the skin is called subcutaneous immune globulin (SCIG). This therapy is used to treat several types of immune deficiencies and helps the body fight infection.
Gamma globulin is made of antibodies from the blood of healthy people. Antibodies from at least 10,000 donors in each transfusion provide protection against a wide variety of foreign invaders. The blood is carefully tested and discarded if there is evidence of contagious diseases such as hepatitis or HIV. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Because IVIG does not contain IgA or IgM, their protective functions are not replaced. People with immune deficiencies may continue to have trouble with respiratory infections. However, monthly treatment with IVIG and early treatment of infections help many people with immune deficiencies lead active and full lives.
Other treatments are available for some types of immune deficiencies. Bone marrow transplants and gamma interferon are examples of these other treatments. Researchers in immunology are experimenting with gene therapy and other treatments that will be available in the future.
Helpful Hints for Remembering Medications
- Plan to take your medications at the same time as a daily activity like waking up, brushing teeth, eating meals and going to bed.
- Use a medication checklist or worksheet to record when medications are taken. Place the checklist someplace visible to use as a reminder.
- Pack medications in pillboxes to help you remember to take them.