Immunoglobulins Blood Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

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

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Testosterone Levels Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a testosterone levels test?

Testosterone is the main sex hormone in males. During a boy’s puberty, testosterone causes the growth of body hair, muscle development, and deepening of the voice. In adult men, it controls sex drive, maintains muscle mass, and helps make sperm. Women also have testosterone in their bodies, but in much smaller amounts.

This test measures the levels of testosterone in your blood. Most of the testosterone in the blood is attached to proteins. Testosterone that is not attached to a protein is called free testosterone. There are two main types of testosterone tests:

  • Total testosterone, which measures both attached and free testosterone.
  • Free testosterone, which measures just free testosterone. Free testosterone can give more information about certain medical conditions.

Testosterone levels that are too low (low T) or too high (high T) can cause health problems in both men and women.

Other names: serum testosterone, total testosterone, free testosterone, bioavailable testosterone

What is it used for?

A testosterone levels test may be used to diagnose several conditions, including:

Why do I need a testosterone levels test?

You may need this test if you have symptoms of abnormal testosterone levels. For adult men, it’s mostly ordered if there are symptoms of low T levels. For women, it’s mostly ordered if there are symptoms of high T levels.

Symptoms of low T levels in men include:

  • Low sex drive
  • Difficulty getting an erection
  • Development of breast tissue
  • Fertility problems
  • Hair loss
  • Weak bones
  • Loss of muscle mass

Symptoms of high T levels in women include:

  • Excess body and facial hair growth
  • Deepening of voice
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Acne
  • Weight gain

Boys may also need a testosterone levels test. In boys, delayed puberty can be a symptom of low T , while early puberty may be a symptom of high T.

What happens during a testosterone levels 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 a testosterone levels 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?

Results mean different things depending on whether you are a man, woman, or boy.

For men:

  • High T levels may mean a tumor in the testicles or adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and help control heart rate, blood pressure, and other bodily functions.
  • Low T levels may mean a genetic or chronic disease, or a problem with the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small organ in the brain that controls many functions, including growth and fertility.

For women:

For boys:

  • High T levels may mean cancer in the testicles or adrenal glands.
  • Low T levels in boys may mean there is some other problem with the testicles, including an injury.

If your results are not normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Certain medicines, as well as alcoholism, 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 a testosterone levels test?

Men who are diagnosed with low T levels may benefit from testosterone supplements, as prescribed by their health care provider. Testosterone supplements are not recommended for men with normal T levels. There is no proof they provide any benefits, and in fact they may be harmful to healthy men.

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Semen Analysis: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a semen analysis?

A semen analysis, also called a sperm count, measures the quantity and quality of a man’s semen and sperm. Semen is the thick, white fluid released from the penis during a man’s sexual climax (orgasm). This release is called ejaculation. Semen contains sperm, the cells in a man that carry genetic material. When a sperm cell unites with an egg from a woman, it forms an embryo (the first stage of an unborn baby’s development).

A low sperm count or abnormal sperm shape or movement can make it difficult for a man to make a woman pregnant. The inability to conceive a baby is called infertility. Infertility can affect men and women. For about one-third of couples unable to have children, male infertility is the reason. A semen analysis can help figure out the cause of male infertility.

Other names: sperm count, sperm analysis, semen testing, male fertility test

What is it used for?

A semen analysis is used to find out if a problem with semen or sperm may be causing a man’s infertility. The test may also be used to see if a vasectomy has been successful. A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that is used to prevent pregnancy by blocking the release of sperm during sex.

Why do I need a semen analysis?

You may need a semen analysis if you and your partner have been trying to have a baby for at least 12 months without success.

If you’ve recently had a vasectomy, you may need this test to make sure the procedure has worked.

What happens during a semen analysis?

You will need to provide a semen sample. The most common way to provide your sample is to go to a private area in your health care provider’s office and masturbate into a sterile container. You should not use any lubricants. If masturbation is against your religious or other beliefs, you may be able to collect your sample during intercourse using a special type of condom. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about providing your sample.

You will need to provide two or more additional samples within a week or two. That’s because sperm count and semen quality can vary from day to day.

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

You will need to avoid sexual activity, including masturbation, for 2–5 days before the sample is collected. This will help make sure your sperm count is at its highest level.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is no known risk to a semen analysis.

What do the results mean?

The results of a semen analysis include measurements of quantity and quality of semen and sperm. These include:

  • Volume: the amount of semen
  • Sperm count: the number of sperm per milliliter
  • Sperm movement, also known as motility
  • Sperm shape, also known as morphology
  • White blood cells, which may be a sign of an infection

If any of these results are not normal, it may mean there is problem with your fertility. But other factors, including the use of alcohol, tobacco, and some herbal medicines, can affect your results. If you have questions about your results or other concerns about your fertility, talk to your health care provider.

If your semen analysis was done to check the success of your vasectomy, your provider will look for the presence of any sperm. If no sperm is found, you and your partner should be able to stop using other forms of birth control. If sperm is found, you may need repeat testing until your sample is clear of sperm. In the meantime, you and your partner will have to take precautions in order to prevent pregnancy.

Is there anything else I need to know about a semen analysis?

Many male fertility problems can be treated. If your semen analysis results were not normal, your health care provider may order more tests to help figure out the best approach to treatment.

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ANA (Antinuclear Antibody) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is an ANA (Antinuclear Antibody) Test?

An ANA test looks for antinuclear antibodies in your blood. If the test finds antinuclear antibodies in your blood, it may mean you have an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder causes your immune system to attack your own cells, tissues, and/or organs by mistake. These disorders can cause serious health problems.

Antibodies are proteins that your immune system makes to fight foreign substances like viruses and bacteria. But an antinuclear antibody attacks your own healthy cells instead. It’s called “antinuclear” because it targets the nucleus (center) of the cells.

Other names: antinuclear antibody panel, fluorescent antinuclear antibody, FANA, ANA

What is it used for?

An ANA test is used to help diagnose autoimmune disorders, including:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This is the most common type of lupus, a chronic disease affecting multiple parts of the body, including the joints, blood vessels, kidneys, and brain.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that causes pain and swelling of the joints, mostly in the hands and feet
  • Scleroderma, a rare disease affecting the skin, joints, and blood vessels
  • Sjogren’s syndrome, a rare disease affecting the body’s moisture-making glands

Why do I need an ANA test?

Your health care provider may order an ANA test if you have symptoms of lupus or another autoimmune disorder. These symptoms include:

What happens during an ANA 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 ANA 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?

A positive result on an ANA test means that antinuclear antibodies were found in your blood. You may get a positive result if:

  • You have SLE (lupus).
  • You have a different type of autoimmune disease.
  • You have a viral infection.

A positive result doesn’t necessarily mean you have a disease. Some healthy people have antinuclear antibodies in their blood. In addition, certain medicines can affect your results.

If your ANA test results are positive, your health care provider will likely order more tests, especially if you have symptoms of disease. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

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

Antinuclear antibody levels tend to increase with age. As many as one-third of healthy adults over the age of 65 may have a positive ANA test result.

References

  1. American College of Rheumatology [Internet]. Atlanta: American College of Rheumatology; c2017. Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) [updated 2017 Mar; cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Antinuclear-Antibodies-ANA
  2. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth’s Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Antinuclear Antibodies (ANAS); 53 p.
  3. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Antinuclear Antibody (ANA); [updated 2018 Feb 1; cited 2018 Feb 8]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/ana/tab/test
  4. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Scleroderma; [updated 2017 Sep 20; cited 2018 Feb 8]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/scleroderma
  5. Lupus Research Alliance [Internet]. New York: Lupus Research Alliance; c2017. About Lupus [cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.lupusresearch.org/understanding-lupus/what-is-lupus/about-lupus
  6. Lupus Research Alliance [Internet]. New York: Lupus Research Alliance; c2017. Symptoms [cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.lupusresearch.org/understanding-lupus/what-is-lupus/symptoms
  7. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co., Inc.; c2017. Sjögren’s Syndrome [cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/autoimmune-disorders-of-connective-tissue/sj%C3%B6gren-syndrome
  8. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co., Inc.; c2017. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) [cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/autoimmune-disorders-of-connective-tissue/systemic-lupus-erythematosus-sle
  9. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2017. ANA test: Overview; 2017 Aug 3 [cited Nov 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ana-test/home/ovc-20344718
  10. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2017. ANA test: Results; 2017 Aug 3 [cited Nov 17]; [about 7 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ana-test/details/results/rsc-20344732
  11. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2017. ANA test: Why it’s done; 2017 Aug 3 [cited Nov 17]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ana-test/details/why-its-done/icc-20344722
  12. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests; [cited 2018 Feb 8]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  13. NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine: Genetics Home Reference [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; rheumatoid arthritis; 2017 Nov 14 [cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/rheumatoid-arthritis
  14. UF Health: University of Florida Health [Internet]. University of Florida; c2017. Antinuclear antibody panel: Overview [updated 2017 Nov 17; cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://ufhealth.org/antinuclear-antibody-panel
  15. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Antinuclear Antibody [cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=antinuclear_antibodies
  16. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA): Results [updated 2016 Oct 31; cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 8 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/antinuclear-antibodies/hw2297.html#hw2323
  17. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA): Test Overview [updated 2016 Oct 31; cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/antinuclear-antibodies/hw2297.html
  18. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA): Why It’s Done [updated 2016 Oct 31; cited 2017 Nov 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/antinuclear-antibodies/hw2297.html#hw2304

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From the lab – Bringing Prosthetic Hands to Life

 

NIH is improving prosthetic, or artificial, limbs so that they can work better and feel more natural to patients.

Using vibrations and a complex, computerized interface between patients’ brains and limbs, the team of researchers was able to trick the patients’ brains into moving their prosthetic hands.

In the small group of patients with limb loss, a surgeon redirected the nerves for the missing part of the limb—in this case, nerves for the hand and fingers—to other remaining muscles. When the subject tries to move their amputated limb, the reconnected muscle contracts. Those signals can then be connected to a computer to drive the motion of bionic hands.

The motion-sensing bionic arm and hands coordinate more naturally and fully with the brain by vibrating near the muscles, which creates sensations that help control the prosthesis.

The research study was funded in part by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award. The award supports projects that are often risky and untested but have the potential to lead to major research findings.

“Decades of research have shown that muscles need to sense movement to work properly. This system basically hacks the neural circuits behind that system,” says James W. Gnadt, Ph.D., of NINDS. “This approach takes the field of prosthetic medicine to a new level, which we hope will improve the lives of many.”

SOURCES: NIH Research Matters: Improving Control of Bionic Prosthetic Hands; opens in new window National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Bionic Limb opens in new window

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