The IgE blood test is designed to detect one of five different types of antibodies that are made by the immune system. The presence of IgE can let medical providers know whether or not the body is being attacked by a foreign pathogen. It is also commonly ordered to detect if there are allergic reactions to specific substances. This blood test can be ordered by itself or it can be ordered with tests that are specific to the suspected allergy.
IgE levels within the blood are also useful for screening purposes when a parasitic infection is suspected. The levels of this antibody tend to increase when a parasitic infection is present.
When To Discuss the IgE Blood Test?
The most common reason for the IgE blood test to be ordered is because of an unknown allergy. The signs and symptoms of allergies will typically be present when this test is ordered. Itching, watery eyes, a runny nose, and a scratchy throat are all common symptoms of an allergic reaction. Some people may develop nausea or having diarrhea that is difficult to control. Coughing, sneezing, and other forms of congestion are also possible.
Someone who may be suspected in having asthma may also have the IgE blood test ordered to screen out the possibility of an allergy causing the symptoms. This includes a tightness in the chest, wheezing, and a feeling of not being able to catch one’s breath.
What To the Test Results Mean?
In general terms, and increased IgE level generally indicates the presence of at least one active allergy. It is possible to have multiple active allergies with a positive test result as well. If the source of the allergy is not known, then allergen-specific tests will generally be ordered to determine the cause. Certain seasonal allergies may not be present at the time of testing and therefore not develop antibodies that can be detected.
Most people who have multiple allergies will have higher overall levels of IgE in their test results. It is also possible for IgE levels to drop after some time after an exposure.
The severity of allergy symptoms, however, does not correlate to higher levels of antibodies within the blood. A positive test result may also be caused by the presence of a genetic disorder that is very rare called Job syndrome. People with Job syndrome have very high IgE levels, several sinus and lung infections, bone defects, skin infections, and eczema is rather common. Very high positive results may cause a medical provider to lean in this direction.
Certain types of multiple myeloma may also create IgE, so this test will be ordered to track the progress of the disease. This type of order, however, is relatively rare.
Here’s What You Need to Know
The only way to proactively avoid having high IgE levels is to avoid the things that may be causing an allergic reaction. The levels of antibodies in the blood are not affected by the amount of exercise a person performs daily or the foods they choose to eat.
Doctors that specialize in diagnosing allergies will often perform this test within their own offices. General family providers will typically send out the sample for analysis and receive results in 3-5 business days. If the test is positive, then further testing may be required to determine the extent of the allergy.
One of the usual tests outside of the allergen-specific IgE blood tests is the allergen skin test. In this test, the skin is pricked so that it will bleed. Then the suspected allergens are exposed to the blood to determine if an allergy develops. Positive skin test results for allergies will cause a red swelling to occur at the application site. Multiple skin pricks are required for each allergen, so it is not typically a test that is performed unless all other detection methods have been exhausted.
Having uncontrolled allergies may not seem serious, but they can be. A severe allergic reaction may cause swelling in the face and throat, making it difficult to breathe. That type of reaction is always treated as a medical emergency.
Knowing the IgE blood test results can help individuals be able to avoid allergy triggers which create bothersome symptoms. Ask your medical provider about this test if you’re suffering from allergies on a consistent basis and are unsure of what may be causing them. In doing so, it may be possible to begin claiming your life back from the bothersome allergy symptoms.