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Ask the Allergist

Ask the Allergist

What does high or elevated IgE mean?

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Question
My son has elevated IgE levels. Does that mean that he has allergies?
Answer

IgE (Immunoglobin E) are antibodies produced by the immune system. They can be elevated for many reasons. A common reason may include the presence of an allergic condition. Allergic conditions include atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma, and food allergy. It is important to understand that total IgE does not mean your son has a specific allergy to something. But, testing specific IgE (IgE that binds to pollen or a specific food) can help determine this. Two tests can assess specific allergies: The skin prick tests and serum-specific IgE blood tests. It is also critical to understand that these tests are sensitive. A positive skin prick or blood test to food, in itself, cannot make a diagnosis of food allergy. The medical history is important to make this diagnosis. I recommend you discuss the test results with your son's physician.

Categories
Allergy, Diagnosis
Answered by

Douglas T. Johnston, DO, FAAAAI, FACAAI, is an allergist/clinical immunologist at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Assistant Professor at Edward Via School of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). He has lectured at national and international medical conferences and has publications in several medical journals, including “Clinical Immunology,” “World Allergy Organization Journal,” “Journal of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology,” “The Journal of the American Medical Association,” and the “New England Journal of Medicine.”

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