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Immunization Testing

Immune System Testing

A normal immune system protects the body from a variety of threats, including viruses, bacteria, parasites and cancer cells. While this system generally works quietly and efficiently behind the scenes to help keep us healthy, there are a number of disorders that can cause problems with its function. Here we'll discuss some of the problems that can occur in immune system function, as well how blood testing can aid in diagnosing them.

What is an immune system disorder?Immune system testing evaluates vaccination effectiveness

Immune system disorders are conditions that can cause the immune system to become under active or over active. An under-active immune system becomes less able to fight invaders, like viruses or bacteria, making a person more vulnerable to illnesses and infections. This is called immune deficiency, or immunodeficiency. An over-active immune system attacks and damages the body's own tissues. This is called autoimmune activity, which is the basis of autoimmune disorders/diseases.

Featured Tests and Packages
Hepatitis B Immunity Package
$375
 
$125

Detects antigens and antibodies to hepatitis B to screen for hepatitis B infection or confirm immunity

Lab Tests (A-Z)
Chicken Pox & Shingles
$45

Measures level of antibodies to determine if a person is immune to the virus that causes shingles

Hepatitis A Antibody, Total
$43

Only for Hepatitis A immunization status

Hepatitis A Infection and Immunity Package
$255
 
$85

Detects total hepatitis A antibodies and hepatitis A IgM antibodies to screen for hepatitis A infection or confirm immunity

Hepatitis B Immunity Package
$364
 
$125

Detects antigens and antibodies to hepatitis B to screen for hepatitis B infection or confirm immunity

Hepatitis B Surface Antibodies
$39

Surface antibodies are produced in response to the presence of surface antigens. A reactive result is consistent with immunity to the hepatitis B virus, either by recovery from infection or by vaccination.1

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Immunity Profile
$108

Detects antibodies for measles, mumps, and rubella to confirm immunity

Rubella IgG ( German Measles)
$69

This test is used to measure if antibodies against Rubella have been created in the body. Recommended for immune status determination.

Rubeola IgG ( Measles)
$69

This test is used to measure if antibodies against Rubeola have been created in the body. Recommended for immune status determination.

Tetanus and Diptheria Antibody Profile
$119

The Tetanus Antibodies Profile is typically used to determine a person's immunity to this deadly infection.

Tuberculosis (QuantiFERON®-TB Gold)
$189

Detects latent and active infection with tuberculosis

What is immune deficiency disorder?

Immune deficiency disorders weaken the immune system, disrupting its ability to defend the body against infections and diseases. There are two basic types of immune deficiency disorder: congenital and acquired. Congenital, or primary, immunodeficiencies are disorders you are born with or that have a genetic (inherited) cause. Serious primary immunodeficiencies are often diagnosed soon after birth, while milder ones may not be discovered until late childhood or even well into adulthood. Acquired, or secondary immune deficiency disorders are ones that you get later in life. Secondary immunodeficiency disorders are more common than primary immune disorders, and their causes can include anything that weakens the immune system, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Severe burns
  • Malnutrition
  • HIV infection
  • Removal of the spleen
  • Aging

Signs of both types of immunodeficiencies can include frequent bouts of illnesses and conditions that either do not respond to treatment, or do not resolve completely over time, including:

  • Colds
  • Sinus infections
  • Ear infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Pinkeye
  • Diarrhea
  • Pneumonia

How do you test for immune deficiency?

If you have symptoms that may indicate immunodeficiency, immune system testing can aid in determining whether or not your immune system is functioning properly. Typically these will include blood tests that:

  • Count your white blood cells – This test measures the overall amount of white blood cells in your blood, which are cells produced by the immune system that fight infections by attacking antigens, such as viruses and bacteria, when they invade the body. Abnormal white cell counts can indicate immune system problems.
  • Count T cells – This tests evaluates your levels of T cells, which are a type of white blood cell that responds to viral infections. Lower than normal levels of T cells can indicate immunodeficiency.
  • Measure your immunoglobulins level – This blood test measures whether or not you have normal levels of immunoglobulins in your blood. Also known as antibodies, there are 5 major types of these proteins produced by the immune system.Abnormal levels of any of them can indicate immune disorders.

Abnormal levels of these infection-fighting immune cells can indicate immunodeficiencies.

Vaccines are sometimes used to test for immune deficiency as well. Clinics may administer a vaccine in order to evaluate whether or not the immune system can respond to it appropriately. That evaluation is done via a blood test a few days or weeks after the vaccine is injected. If that blood test finds that your immune system produced antibodies in response to the organisms present in the vaccine, this indicates proper immune function. If no antibodies are found in the blood or levels are extremely low, you may have an immunodeficiency disorder.

What is an autoimmune disorder?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder and can affect finger joints

These disorders are caused by an immune system that has become over-active. When this happens, the immune system's infection fighting cells attack tissues and cells within the body as if they were invading viruses or bacteria. This leads to inflammation in those tissues, as well as tissue damage or destruction. Common examples of autoimmune disorders include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis – In this disorder, the immune system produces antibodies that attack and slowly destroy the linings of joints.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – The immune system attacks the intestinal lining.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) – Nerve cells are attacked by the immune system.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) – The immune system attacks tissues in areas that may include the kidneys, lungs, blood cells, joints and nerves.
  • Grave's disease – The immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing over-production of thyroid hormones.
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis – The immune system gradually destroys cells that produce thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland.
  • Psoriasis – Overactive immune cells collect in the skin, causing silvery, scaly plaques to develop on the skin in affected areas.

What does an immunology blood test show?

As explained above, an immunology blood test can show whether or not your immune system is responding properly as it works to protect your body from illness and infection. They may also be used to test your blood for antibodies to certain diseases, including:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Chicken Pox
  • Shingles
  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Rubella (German Measles)
  • Rubeola (Measles)
  • Mumps
  • Tuberculosis

Testing for antibodies to these diseases can help your doctor determine whether you need vaccination or re-vaccination to protect against them. It can also help determine whether you have been exposed to certain diseases or are currently infected with them, enabling effective treatment. Immunology tests can also help diagnose autoimmune disorders by detecting autoantibodies, which are antibodies that an out-of-control immune system makes to attack specific tissues in the body.