The IgA blood test is used to determine how much immunoglobulin A is within the blood. IgA is one of the most common antibodies that is produced by the human body and consists of proteins that the immune system makes to help fight off invading viruses, bacteria, infections, or other toxins. These proteins can also be found in high concentrations within the mucous membranes of the body, in a person’s airways, and even in their tears.
The reason why IgA is a common blood test is because the immune system often produces these antibodies when there are autoimmune conditions present. It can also play a role when an allergic reaction is occurring.
When To Ask About the IgA Blood Test
Some children can be born with low levels of IgA or have none at all. When this occurs, then they are at an increased risk of developing health conditions such as asthma, have a higher prevalence of allergies, and be at risk for the development of an autoimmune condition. Any children who are experiencing frequent infections should have a discussion with their medical provider over the IgA blood test.
When a family member has a specific autoimmune condition, such as celiac disease, then there is up to a 12% chance that someone else in the family may also have it – even if they aren’t showing any symptoms. The IgA blood test can measure the antibodies in the blood to help determine if further testing for this autoimmune disorder or for other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may be necessary.
The IgA blood test is not used to make a definitive diagnosis in most circumstances. Further testing, including a complete blood count, tissue biopsy, and malabsorption rates may also be necessary.
When Is the IgA Blood Test Typically Ordered?
A medical provider will order the IgA blood test when a patient is experiencing the signs and symptoms of an autoimmune disorder, is suffering from frequent infections, or may have severe allergies that develop rapidly. The symptoms may be progressive, non-specific, or even be intermediate in nature and can affect any part of the body.
Some of the most common symptoms that trigger the ordering of an IgA blood test include frequent abdominal pain, blood in a person’s stool, chronic diarrhea or constipation, stools that smell bad, or frequent vomiting. Some patients may also experience joint pain, bone pain, frequent mouth ulcers, ongoing weakness, and easy bruising.
For celiac disease, a medical provider may also look at a patient’s teeth as there may be discoloration or issues with the dental enamel present. Children who are affected may be short in stature, have delayed development, suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms, and infants may experience a failure to thrive.
What Do My IgA Blood Test Results Mean?
Blood test results for IgA are typically communicated as being either high, low, or normal. If there are high results, then this typically indicates the presence of an infection, an autoimmune disorder, chronic inflammation, or cirrhosis of the liver. It can also be the result of a hyperimmunization reaction.
If the IgA blood test results are high, but other immunoglobulin testing results are normal, then this can be an indication that multiple myeloma, leukemia, or lymphoma has developed.
If the IgA blood test results are low, then this can be an indication that kidney failure has occurred. People who are suffering from diabetes typically have low IgA levels as well. Burns can also cause an abnormal loss of the proteins created by the immune system and certain digestive disorders which affect the digestion or absorption of protein can also affect results.
Here’s What You Need to Know About the IgA Blood Test
When someone has an IgA deficiency, then there is the chance that they may develop anti-IgA antibodies. Should this occur, it can make the individual susceptible to an anaphylactic reaction when a blood transfusion becomes necessary. It may be recommended by a medical provider to make blood donations for oneself in this circumstance to avoid a severe allergic reaction should a transfusion be necessary.
Certain test results may also present a false negative result, especially if there is an IgA deficiency present. This may indicate that celiac disease may not be present when it actually is. A medical provider may then request a quantitative IgA test if the signs and symptoms are present to help with the diagnostic process.
The IgA blood test is used to help begin the process of creating a treatment plan for people who are suffering from certain bothersome health issues. Use this guide to speak with your doctor about whether or not this blood test is right for you today.