For many different medical conditions and reasons, there are immunological tests–in the example, to monitor for an infection, to scan for bowel cancer or to find out if a woman is pregnant. These can be used to perform routine testing in hospitals and labs, to perform quick testing at home, as well as the practices of family physicians and specialists.
Why immunology test is done?
With the help of immunological techniques, you can identify certain substances or pathogens (germs) in your body. The measurable items include bacteria, hormones, and hemoglobin blood pigment. The tests take advantage of the body’s immune system: Antibodies are formed by the immune system to fight germs or foreign substances.
Antibodies are proteins that can bind to a specific germ or substance, just as a key fits into a particular keyhole. We “stop” and neutralize the germs or substances, and attract other immune cells.
The immunological tests used in laboratories are made by producing artificial antibodies which precisely “match” the substance or germ concerned. When these antibodies come into contact with a sample of blood, urine, or stool, if present in the sample, they bind to the associated material, or germ. This reaction shows the presence of germ, or substance.
What happens during the test?
As already stated, immunological tests involve different antibodies that bind to the material or germ being tested. This reaction is visible to the naked eye in certain experiments. For example the blood coagulates (clumps together) on the test card in tests to determine the blood group. In other experiments, a fluorescent dye or an enzyme has to make the reaction noticeable.
In general, immunological testing can be divided into rapid tests and laboratory tests.
What are immunological tests used for?
Immunological tests are widely used. Their areas of application include:
Bowel cancer screening: This test looks for hemoglobin from the blood pigment, a blood sign in stool. Various things, such as hemorrhoids, polyps, or even bowel cancer, can cause blood in the stool.
Allergy tests: To detect antibodies against substances which cause allergies, such as grass pollen or certain foods.
Detecting germs causing an infection: If someone is thought to have bacterial tonsillitis or scarlet fever, the test looks for bacteria that are Streptococcus. There are tests that can detect the Borrelia bacteria that cause it in the case of Lyme disease following a tick bite, and there are tests that can detect the antibodies to Borrelia bacteria. Immunological testing can be used to detect viruses, too.
Diagnosing heart attacks and thrombosis: Immediately after a heart attack or if someone has thrombosis, there are higher blood levels of some protein. These are detectable by an immunological test.
Urine test: If this rapid examination is used to detect sugar, blood, proteins or inflammatory cells in the urine, it could be a sign of diabetes, urinary tract infection, or kidney damage.
Pregnancy test: Women can use this quick test to find out if their urine contains beta-hCG, the “pregnancy hormone.”
Determining your blood group: The person providing the blood and the person receiving the blood will have the same type of blood when blood transfusions are finished. Immunological tests may be used before a blood transfusion to evaluate the blood groups.
Immunological testing can also be used to identify congenital or acquired immune disorders, to distinguish between different forms of rheumatoid arthritis, or to track the progression of an existing medical disorder, such as certain tumors (PSA levels in the blood are monitored in prostate cancer).