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AAFA’s Ask the Allergist: Do High IgE Levels Mean My Child Has an Allergy?

 

Information from AAFA’s Ask the Allergist is not a substitute for a consultation with a health care professional. Always talk with your own doctor before making changes to your or your child's asthma or allergy management plan.


Q: My son has elevated IgE levels. Does that mean he has allergies?

A: IgE (Immunoglobin E) are antibodies produced by the immune system. They can be high 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: 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 alone cannot make a diagnosis of food allergy. Medical history is important to make this diagnosis. I recommend you discuss the test results with your son's doctor.



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.”


AAFA’s Ask the Allergist is a free service provided by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Kids With Food Allergies is the food allergy division of AAFA. Our allergists will answer your questions about managing asthma or allergies and medicines and treatments. Submit your question on our website or read answers to other common questions on our knowledge base.

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