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Immunoglobulins Blood Test

What is an immunoglobulins blood test?

This test measures the amount of immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, in your blood. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to fight disease-causing substances, like viruses and bacteria. Your body makes different types of immunoglobulins to fight different types of these substances.

An immunoglobulins test usually measures three specific types of immunoglobulins. They are called igG, igM, and IgA. If your levels of igG, igM, or IgA are too low or too high, it may be a sign of a serious health problem.

Other names: quantitative immunoglobulins, total immunoglobulins, IgG, IgM, IgA testing

What is it used for?

An immunoglobulins blood test may be used to help diagnose a variety of conditions, including:

Why do I need an immunoglobulins blood test?

You may need this test if your health care provider thinks your immunoglobulin levels might be too low or too high.

Symptoms of levels that are too low include:

  • Frequent and/or unusual bacterial or viral infections
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Sinus infections
  • Lung infections
  • Family history of immunodeficiency

If your immunoglobulin levels are too high, it may be a sign of an autoimmune disease, a chronic illness, an infection, or a type of cancer. Symptoms of these conditions vary greatly. Your health care provider may use information from your physical exam, medical history, and/or other tests to see if you are at risk for one of these diseases.

What happens during an immunoglobulins blood test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don't need any special preparations for an immunoglobulins blood test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

If your results show lower than normal levels of immunoglobulins, it may indicate:

If your results show higher than normal levels of immunoglobulins, it may indicate:

If your results are not normal, it doesn't necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. The use of certain medicines, alcohol, and recreational drugs can affect your results. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about an immunglobulins blood test?

Your health care provider may order other tests to help make a diagnosis. These tests might include urinalysis, other blood tests, or a procedure called a spinal tap. During a spinal tap, a health care provider will use a special needle to remove a sample of a clear liquid, called cerebrospinal fluid, from your back.

References

  1. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth's Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Quantitative Immunoglobulins: IgA, IgG, and IgM; 442–3 p.
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine; Health Library: Lumbar Puncture (LP) [cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/neurological/lumbar_puncture_lp_92,p07666
  3. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Quantitative Immunoglobulins [updated 2018 Jan 15; cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/quantitative-immunoglobulins
  4. Loh RK, Vale S, Maclean-Tooke A. Quantitative serum immunoglobulin tests. Aust Fam Physician [Internet]. 2013 Apr [cited 2018 Feb 17]; 42(4):195–8. Available from: https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2013/april/quantitative-serum-immunoglobulin-tests
  5. Mayo Clinic: Mayo Medical Laboratories [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1995–2018. Test ID: IMMG: Immunoglobulins (IgG, IgA, and IgM), Serum: Clinical and Interpretative [cited 2018 Feb 17; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/8156
  6. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2018. Autoimmune Disorders [cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/immune-disorders/allergic-reactions-and-other-hypersensitivity-disorders/autoimmune-disorders
  7. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2018. Overview of Immunodeficiency Disorders [cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/immune-disorders/immunodeficiency-disorders/overview-of-immunodeficiency-disorders
  8. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  9. Nemours Children's Health System [Internet]. Jacksonville (FL): The Nemours Foundation; c1995–2018. Blood Test: Immunoglobulins (IgA, IgG, IgM) [cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/test-immunoglobulins.html
  10. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2018. Health Encyclopedia: Quantitative Immunoglobulins [cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=quantitative_immunoglobulins
  11. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Immunoglobulins: Results [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 8 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/immunoglobulins/hw41342.html#hw41354
  12. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Immunoglobulins: Test Overview [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/immunoglobulins/hw41342.html
  13. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Immunoglobulins: What Affects the Test [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Feb 17]; [about 9 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/gamma-globulin-tests/hw41342.html#hw41355
  14. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Immunoglobulins: Why It is Done [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/gamma-globulin-tests/hw41342.html#hw41349

The medical information provided is for informational purposes only, and is not to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact your health care provider with questions you may have regarding medical conditions or the interpretation of test results.

In the event of a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.