A curious but optimistic man rubs his chin while looking up with a questioning expression. There are floating graphs and question marks behind him.

Will Immunoglobulin Replacement Therapy (IGRT) Work For Me?

Along my journey to diagnose and treat my chronic hives has been Dr. W. You can read more about him and how I was diagnosed. Dr. W is an allergy/immunology specialist. Along with his medical degree, he also holds a Ph.D. in immunology. He’s smart, very smart.

Autoimmune issues and testing

Because my hives are caused by an autoimmune disorder Dr. W has been assessing other aspects of my immune system. According to him, it’s not uncommon for autoimmune issues to coincide with other immune issues, particularly immunodeficiencies. A few months ago he did some lab work to check my immunoglobulin levels. Unfortunately, some of the levels came back lower than normal.

The next step was to assess how my immune system responded to something called a vaccine challenge. First, my labs were drawn to check the level of antibodies already in my system. After establishing that baseline, I was given a vaccine to see how my body would respond and build immunity. Six weeks later we rechecked my antibody levels. The labs revealed that my body did not create the antibodies as it should.

This was really disappointing and discouraging because it meant that my immune system isn’t functioning as it should. My body doesn’t have any trained soldiers to fight foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. So it I get sick, it takes my body a long time and a lot of effort to clear the infection.

One of the more effective treatments for me to combat this is immunoglobulin replacement therapy or IGRT.

Two birds, one stone

We discussed how IGRT could also help treat chronic hives. Don’t ask me how it works, see my diatribe here. My doctor said that there isn’t a whole of evidence or big studies done on IGRT and treating hives, but there are some studies that are promising.

There are two different kinds of immunoglobulin replacement therapy. It can either be administered by IV or done subcutaneously. As with many of the treatment options we are considering, IG therapy comes with a risk of blood clots. However, that risk goes down significantly when done subcutaneously versus by IV.

Dr. W said that the subcutaneous route may also decrease its ability to moderate my hives. You win some, you lose some. Right now it’s more important for me to get the IG therapy than to consider its impact on my hives since my hives are not really an issue right now. And, due to the clotting risk, subcutaneous administration is definitely the way to go.

Getting approved for IGRT has been a long process, but I’m hoping to start therapy very soon. I’m excited to see how it will improve my health, particularly how much better my body will be able to fight infection. It will be hard to judge whether or not the IGRT plays a role in the treatment of my hives because I am still in a period of remission.

But I’m hopeful that starting this new treatment will keep my hives at bay for as long as possible.

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