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Antibodies are chemicals that circulate in the bloodstream and are part of the immune system. Antibodies have an important function for the body, namely as a defense against antigens such as viruses, bacteria, and toxic substances that cause disease
Antibodies work specifically by attaching to antigens, which are foreign objects or substances that enter the body and are considered dangerous by the immune system.
Antibodies are made by white blood cells as the body's response to fight bacteria, viruses, and toxic substances that can cause various diseases and infections.
Recognizing the Type of Antibody
There are several types of antibodies and each has its own function. Antibodies are also known as immunoglobulins. The following are the types of antibodies:
1. Immunoglobulin A (IgA)
IgA antibodies are the most common type of antibody found in the body and are involved in the process of allergic reactions.
In the body, IgA antibodies are found in many mucous membranes (mucous membranes) of the body, especially those that line the respiratory and digestive tracts. IgA is also found in many body fluids, such as saliva, phlegm, tears, vaginal fluids, and breast milk.
IgA antibody tests are also usually done by doctors to diagnose disorders of the immune system, such as celiac disease.
2. Immunoglobulin E (IgE)
IgE antibodies are generally found in the blood in small amounts. However, the number of IgE antibodies will increase when the body experiences an inflammatory reaction due to allergies. Medically, IgE antibody tests are performed to detect allergic diseases and parasitic infections.
3. Immunoglobulin G (IgG)
IgG antibodies are the most common type of antibody found in blood and other body fluids. When an antigen such as a germ, virus, or certain chemical enters the body, white blood cells will "remember" the antigen and form IgE antibodies to fight it.
Thus, if the antigen re-enters the body or attacks your body, the immune system will easily recognize it and fight back because antibodies have already been formed.
4. Immunoglobulin M (IgM)
The body will make IgM antibodies when you are first infected with bacteria or viruses as the body's first form of defense against infection. IgM levels will increase for a short time during infection, then slowly decrease and are replaced by IgG antibodies.
Therefore, an IgM test result with a high value is often considered a sign of an active infection. Doctors will usually perform an IgM antibody test together with IgA and IgG antibody tests to monitor the condition and function of the immune system. and diagnose whether there are certain diseases, such as infections or autoimmune diseases.
Conditions Requiring Antibody Test
The benefit of the antibody test is to help diagnose the presence of infections in various organs of the body, especially immune system disorders, digestive problems, and respiratory infections, such as COVID-19.
An antibody test can also be performed to detect certain diseases, such as allergic contact dermatitis, atopic eczema, allergic rhinitis, and asthma. In addition, your doctor may also recommend an antibody test if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Skin rash
- Pain after traveling
- Frequent colds
- Shortness of breath
- Diarrhea that doesn't go away
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fever of unknown cause
The antibody test also has other benefits, namely to diagnose myeloma, which is a condition when the bone marrow produces too many lymphocytes, so that the number of antibodies is abnormal. Antibody tests can also be done to diagnose certain types of cancer.
In addition, antibody tests can also be performed to detect certain diseases that may appear during pregnancy. Antibody tests in pregnant women are usually carried out through the TORCH examination.
In certain conditions, the doctor will also suggest an antibody test to monitor the level of the number of antibodies against viruses or bacteria. This test is usually done to monitor whether your body still has immunity to certain germs or viruses after you have been vaccinated.
Because there are many medical conditions that can increase the production of antibodies in the body, you should consult a doctor to consider antibody testing, if you have a history of allergies or other diseases that often recur.
After conducting a series of medical examinations, including allergy tests, the doctor will determine the diagnosis of the disease you are experiencing and provide appropriate treatment.