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Immunoglobulins

How To Prepare

You do not need to do anything before you have this test.

How It Is Done

The health professional drawing blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure to the site and then a bandage.

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of a problem from having blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (such as Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

Results

An immunoglobulins test is done to measure the level of immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, in your blood.

Normal

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

The results listed below are normal values for adults. Children have different values than adults. Results are ready in several days.

Immunoglobulins1
IgA

60–400 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 600–4,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L)

IgG

700–1,500 mg/dL or 7.0–15.0 grams per liter (g/L)

IgM

60–300 mg/dL or 600–3,000 mg/L

IgD

0–14 mg/dL or 0–140 mg/L

IgE

3–423 international units per milliliter (IU/mL) or 3–423 kilo-international units per liter (kIU/L)

High values

  • IgA. High levels of IgA may mean that monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS) or multiple myeloma is present. Levels of IgA also get higher in some autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and in liver diseases, such as cirrhosis and long-term (chronic) hepatitis.
  • IgG. High levels of IgG may mean a long-term (chronic) infection, such as HIV, is present. Levels of IgG also get higher in IgG multiple myeloma, long-term hepatitis, and multiple sclerosis (MS). In multiple myeloma, tumor cells make only one type of IgG antibody (monoclonal); the other conditions cause an increase in many types of IgG antibodies (polyclonal).
  • IgM. High levels of IgM can mean macroglobulinemia, early viral hepatitis, mononucleosis, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney damage (nephrotic syndrome), or a parasite infection is present. Because IgM antibodies are the type that form when an infection occurs for the first time, high levels of IgM can mean a new infection is present. High levels of IgM in a newborn mean that the baby has an infection that started in the uterus before delivery.
  • IgD. How IgD works in the immune system is not clear. A high level may mean IgD multiple myeloma is present. IgD multiple myeloma is much less common than IgA or IgG multiple myeloma.
  • IgE. A high level of IgE can mean a parasite infection is present. Also, high levels of IgE often are found in people who have allergic reactions, asthma, atopic dermatitis, some types of cancer, and certain autoimmune diseases. In rare cases, a high level of IgE may mean IgE multiple myeloma.

Low values

  • IgA. Some people are born with low or absent levels of IgA antibodies. Low levels of IgA occur in some types of leukemia, kidney damage (nephrotic syndrome), a problem with the intestines (enteropathy), and a rare inherited disease that affects muscle coordination (ataxia-telangiectasia). A low level of IgA increases the chance of developing an autoimmune disease.
  • IgG. Low levels of IgG occur in macroglobulinemia. In this disease, the high levels of IgM antibodies stop the growth of cells that make IgG. Other conditions that can cause low levels of IgG include some types of leukemia and a type of kidney damage (nephrotic syndrome). In rare cases some people are born with a lack of IgG antibodies. These people are more likely to develop infections.
  • IgM. Low levels of IgM occur in multiple myeloma, some types of leukemia, and in some inherited types of immune diseases.
  • IgE. Low levels of IgE can occur in a rare inherited disease that affects muscle coordination (ataxia-telangiectasia).

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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