Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
What is the IgE Total Antibody test?
The IgE total antibody test helps in the screening and detection of allergies. IgE is an antibody produced by the immune system in response to a perceived threat. It is one of the five classes of immunoglobulins (A, G, M, D, and E) and is normally present in small amounts in the blood. Any increase in its level indicates allergic responses, including asthma. It may also be associated with parasitic infections.
Who should get tested?
Your healthcare provider may order a total IgE test in case you have periodic or persistent allergy symptoms. These may include:
- Periodic or persistent itching
- Itchy eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in the chest
A total IgE test is also used to:
- detect parasitic infection
- evaluate children with a family history of allergies
- confirm sensitivity to food
- evaluate sensitivity to insect venom
Why is the IgE Total Antibody test needed?
Immunoglobulins are proteins that play a crucial role in the immune system. They are produced by plasma cells in response to bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms that the body recognizes as a threat. Sometimes, the immune system perceives harmless substances such as pollen as a threat and overreacts. Allergic reactions, including asthma and parasitic infections, are usually the result of this reaction.
During the initial exposure to a potential allergen, the body produces IgE specifically directed against that allergen. IgE binds with white blood cells which leads to the release of substances like histamine. In allergic or asthmatic people, this can cause constriction of bronchi in the lungs. Runny nose, itchy skin, red and watery eyes are a few of the symptoms that are usually seen due to the way the body responds to the allergens.
Whenever the body comes in contact with that particular allergen again after the initial exposure, IgE is rapidly produced which triggers the allergic reaction. The severity of the reaction and symptoms can vary from person to person and from episode to episode.
Here, an IgE total antibody test is used to measure the levels of overall immunoglobulin E in the blood. It helps in detecting the allergic response of the body. Remember that this test doesn’t determine the specific allergy. Therefore, allergy-specific IgE tests may also be ordered.
What does IgE Total Antibody test results mean?
Having higher than normal levels of IgE antibody in the blood indicates the presence of some kind of allergy. Since normal levels of IgE may vary in each age group, always get your test results checked by a doctor to accurately understand what your reports mean for you. Your doctor may also order further tests to determine the exact cause of your allergy in case the results come back positive.
How is the test done?
The total IgE antibody test is a simple blood test for which a small sample of blood is needed. It is usually drawn from a vein in the arm. The process is simple and relatively painless. Besides, any kind of special preparation, including fasting before the test is not needed. However, you should inform your doctor about any existing medical conditions you may have or about the medicines you are taking on a regular basis as they can influence your test results.
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