Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a serious condition, but it’s treatable. The earlier you’re diagnosed and the earlier you start treatments, the better the chance you’ll have a good outcome.
Up to 80% of people with CIDP respond well to one or more of these treatments:
The first treatment used is often corticosteroids. They’re drugs that bring down inflammation and slow the immune system. It’s believed that in CIDP, the immune system damages the sheaths around nerves, called the myelin. Taken daily, corticosteroids can prevent that damage.
These medications have side effects, including high blood pressure, higher blood sugar, upset stomach, mood swings, irritability, restlessness, and weight gain. Some people are better able to manage the side effects than others.
Other drugs that suppress the immune system, such as azathioprine, can be used along with corticosteroids.
In plasma exchange (PE), your blood is removed and the fluid portion of it (the plasma) is taken out and replaced with new plasma. That new plasma, along with the original blood cells and platelets, are put back in your body. This can slow your down your immune system.
It’s done by professionals at centers specializing in PE. A tube is placed in a large vein either in your neck or under your collarbone. You generally have to repeat PE five times, every other day, for 10 days.
One study found that 80% of people who get PE see a lot of improvement. But it lasts for only a few weeks at a time. And if the treatment is stopped early, you may lose the benefits.
PE can be expensive. Complications, though rare, can include an abnormal heartbeat, salt imbalances in the blood, infection, and bleeding.
PE can be used along with other treatments.
In IVIG, antibodies from healthy people are injected into a vein, usually in your forearm. It can slow your body’s immune system. Many people show improvement in their symptoms in 3 to 5 days after this treatment, and it can last up to 6 weeks. IVIG can be repeated as often as once a month.