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Allergy Blood LabTest

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Allergy Blood LabTest
By Research Staff
Allergy Blood LabTest

Allergies are a common and chronic condition that involves the body's immune system. Normally, your immune system works to fight off viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents. When you have an allergy, your immune system treats a harmless substance, like dust or pollen, as a threat. To fight this perceived threat, your immune system makes antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE).

Substances that cause an allergic reaction are called allergens. Besides dust and pollen, other common allergens include animal dander, foods, including nuts and shellfish, and certain medicines, such as penicillin. Allergy symptoms can range from sneezing and a stuffy nose to a life-threatening complication called anaphylactic shock. Allergy blood tests measure the amount of IgE antibodies in the blood. A small amount of IgE antibodies is normal. A larger amount of IgE may mean you have an allergy.

Other names: IgE allergy test, Quantitative IgE, Immunoglobulin E, Total IgE, Specific IgE

Allergy blood tests are used to find out if you have an allergy. One type of test called a total IgE testmeasures the overall number of IgE antibodies in your blood. Another type of allergy blood test called a specific IgE test measures the level of IgE antibodies in response to individual allergens.

Your health care provider may order allergy testing if you have symptoms of an allergy. These include:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Hives (a rash with raised red patches)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
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.
You don't need any special preparations for an allergy blood test.
There is very little risk to having an allergy blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

If your total IgE levels are higher than normal, it likely means you have some kind of allergy. But it does not reveal what you are allergic to. A specific IgE test will help identify your particular allergy. If your results indicate an allergy, your health care provider may refer you to an allergy specialist or recommend a treatment plan.

Your treatment plan will depend on the type and severity of your allergy. People at risk for anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction that can cause death, need to take extra care to avoid the allergy-causing substance. They may need to carry an emergency epinephrine treatment with them at all times.

Be sure to talk to your health care provider if you have questions about your test results and/or your allergy treatment plan.

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  5. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America [Internet]. Landover (MD): Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; c1995–2017. Drug Allergy and Other Adverse Reactions to Drugs; [cited 2017 May 2]; [about 6 screens]. Available from: http://www.aafa.org/page/medicine-drug-allergy.aspx
  6. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America [Internet]. Landover (MD): Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; c1995–2017. What Are the Symptoms of an Allergy?; [updated 2015 Nov; cited 2017 Feb 24]; [about 5 screens]. Available from: http://www.aafa.org/page/allergy-symptoms.aspx
  7. American College of Allergy Asthma & Immunology [Internet]. American College of Allergy Asthma & Immunology; c2014. Allergies: Anaphylaxis; [cited 2017 Feb 24]; [about 5 screens]. Available from: http://acaai.org/allergies/anaphylaxis
  8. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System; Allergy Overview; [cited 2017 Feb 24]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/allergy_and_asthma/allergy_overview_85,p09504/
  9. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Total IgE: The Test; [updated 2016 Jun 1; cited 2017 Feb 24]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/total-ige/tab/test
  10. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Total IgE: The Test Sample; [updated 2016 Jun 1; cited 2017 Feb 24]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/total-ige/tab/sample/
Allergy Blood LabTest

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