Some IVIG brands, like Gammagard, contain added sugar. This could cause your blood glucose to rise temporarily. But studies don’t show weight gain as a typical side effect of IVIG.

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is a medical treatment for people with disorders that affect their immune system. Such disorders include:

IVIG works by replenishing immune system proteins (immunoglobulins) that help your body protect itself from pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.

As some IVIG preparations contain sugar, you may wonder whether they can cause weight gain. This article will explore whether IVIG can cause you to gain weight. We’ll also look at other side effects linked to IVIG treatment.

How does IVIG help people with autoimmune diseases?

Your immune system works by identifying potentially harmful foreign substances and developing proteins that eliminate them from the body. These proteins are known as immunoglobulins or antibodies.

When illness, infection, or inflammation compromises your immune system, it can’t produce all the antibodies needed to keep you healthy.

IVIG provides a concentrated dose of antibodies extracted from donor blood plasma. It allows people with autoimmune disorders to regain immune system function so they can avoid becoming sick.

Was this helpful?

According to a 2018 research review, weight gain is not a potential side effect of IVIG treatment.

However, it might depend on the brand, since some IVIG preparations contain added sugar. These preparations could cause your blood glucose to spike during infusions, causing hyperglycemia.

If you receive regular infusions of an IVIG product that contains sugar, it could affect your weight in the long term. It might be possible to minimize the impact of added sugar by slowing down the rate of infusion and drinking water before and after the procedure.

IVIG and diabetes

Whether an IVIG preparation has added sugar is also an important consideration for people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, your doctor might recommend a brand of IVIG that doesn’t contain added sugar.

IVIG and sudden weight gain

Some people may experience sudden weight gain with specific IVIG brands, like Gammagard. This could indicate a problem with your kidneys. Consult a doctor if you notice this symptom.

There are ten different brands of IVIG available in the United States. IVIG products that contain sugar are listed below:

  • Carimune contains sucrose
  • Gammagard S/D contains glucose
  • Octagam contains maltose

The following IVIG brands do not contain added sugar:

  • Asceniv
  • Bivigam
  • Flebogamma
  • Gammagard Liquid
  • Gammaplex
  • Gamunex-C (Gammaked)
  • Panzyga
  • Pivigen

As with any medical treatment, IVIG carries a risk of side effects. According to the 2018 review cited above, the most common side effects of IVIG are both mild and temporary. These include:

While less common, serious side effects can occur. Your doctor can help you weigh the risks and benefits of IVIG treatment according to your symptoms and medical history.

How long does IVIG stay in your system?

The half-life of an average IVIG infusion is between 3 and 4 weeks. That means that, after a month or so, less than half of the immunoglobulin you received is still in your system.

With that said, how often you receive infusions depends on your underlying condition. Some people only need a one-time infusion. Others receive weekly or monthly infusions.

Was this helpful?

Some side effects of IVIG don’t appear right away and instead occur in the days or weeks following a transfusion. These are typically very rare and often preventable with appropriate medication.

For example, IVIG has been linked to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help to prevent heart and blood clotting problems in people who receive IVIG.

Other delayed side effects can include:

  • kidney impairment and failure
  • blood and neurological disorders
  • infections from contaminated plasma

Kidney problems are more likely to occur in people with already reduced kidney function or in older adults.

If you experience weight gain when using IVIG, consult with a doctor. They can help you pinpoint whether IVIG infusions might be affecting your weight. They may also help determine if sudden weight gain after IVIG use is related to a kidney problem.

Although most IVIG brands are equally effective, different brands may cause different side effects. If you are experiencing side effects from IVIG treatment, you might find it helpful to try another brand.

IVIG helps temporarily restore regular immune system function in people with autoimmune disorders. It does this by providing antibodies taken from donor blood plasma.

There’s no clear research linking IVIG infusions to weight gain. Still, some IVIG products contain added sugar that could affect how much you weigh in the long term, particularly if you receive frequent infusions.

IVIG also carries a risk of other side effects, including fatigue, headaches, and fever. Most of the time, these side effects are mild and don’t last long.

If you’re concerned about IVIG side effects, including weight gain, consult a healthcare professional such as a doctor or pharmacist.