The IPEP/SPEP blood test is a measurement of specific proteins that can be in the blood. The measuring of these proteins is an important indicator of specific diseases that may be present. Proteins carry both negative and positive charges, which means they move when exposed to fluids that are within electrical fields. The serum protein electrophoresis test will group these proteins into groups that are of similar shape, size, and charge.
Why Is the IPEP Blood Test Requested?
This blood test is recommended as a diagnostic tool to help discover and/or monitor many different conditions. It is most commonly used to look at conditions that may be leading to someone receiving poor overall nutritional content from the foods that they are eating. It may also be requested to discover these three additional issues.
1. Some forms of cancer can be detected by this blood test, especially myeloma or multiple myeloma.
2. Liver and kidney problems can be found.
3. Problems that may exist with the immune system.
There is nothing that needs to be done if you are expecting this blood test in the coming days. If you do have specific concerns about your health, however, it is important to discuss any questions with your doctor before the test is administered.
There are 5 different proteins that will be measured in this test. Each has a normal range that is measured against your specific results. These results are typically available within 48-72 hours of the blood being drawn.
What Are the Normal Protein Ranges?
If your test results fall into these measurements, then you are considered to be healthy and there are not any further concerns in this area of testing.
- Albumin: 3.8-5.0
- Alpha-1: 0.1-0.3
- Alpha-2: 0.6-1.0
- Beta: 0.7-1.4
- Gamma: 0.7-1.6
If You Have High Protein Values
If you have high protein values in certain protein areas, then this can indicate certain issues that are currently present within the body. High albumin levels, for example, are typically caused by dehydration. This is a common result for those who consume high levels of caffeine on a daily basis. High Alpha-1 levels may indicate the presence of inflammation or an infection somewhere within the body.
Here are the other high results to consider.
1. High Alpha-2 levels may indicate the presence of kidney disease or other inflammation.
2. High Beta levels may indicate high cholesterol levels or low iron levels.
3. High Gamma levels are present with some forms of cancer, liver disease, and infections.
If You Have Low Protein Values
If your IPEP blood test results came back lower than normal, then this may also indicate that certain issues are currently present within the body. Low albumin levels, for example, are an indicator that someone is not eating properly or is suffering from kidney or liver disease. Low Alpha-1 and Alpha-2 levels may also indicate liver disease or even thyroid problems.
Low Beta protein levels are always an indicator of poor nutrition.
If someone is suffering from immune system issues, then this will be indicated by low Gamma protein levels.
Certain Circumstances Can Affect Test Results
If you have received an abnormal IPEP blood test result, then your doctor will likely run through some specific questions with you. High levels of lipids and the presence of iron deficiency anemia are the two most common causes of abnormal results, so these circumstances will be eliminated immediately. Certain medications may also affect the results. This is especially true with statins, insulin, or birth control pills.
Abnormal results may also be seen in women who are pregnant. A pregnancy test may be ordered by your doctor if there is any possibility that you could be pregnant to exclude this as a cause for the IPEP test results.
Once the abnormal results are received, it is also important to realize that these are just general findings. Additional tests are going to be ordered to further discover the issues that may be going on inside the body.
What To Do If Your Results Are Abnormal
If your IPEP blood test has come back with irregularities and there may be a serious condition present based on those results, then it is important to receive a second opinion. Instead of taking the test results to a second doctor, have another technician outside of your coverage area conduct the IPEP test a second time to see if the results come back in a similar fashion.
If the results continue to be abnormal, then pursue treatment options with your doctor based on the findings. If the results are not the same, then you may wish to have a third test to determine an average and then work from there.
An abnormal IPEP test can be scary news, but many common issues can cause these results. Use this information to examine your results and be sure to discuss any findings and concerns with your doctor.