Serology

Serology

The study of reactions between antiserums and antigen is commonly referred to as serology. This study has been historically used to confirm the presence of any infections caused by fungi, bacteria, and viruses. These infections detected with the help of serology are usually difficult to detect by any other method.

What is a serologic test?

Serologic tests are diagnostic tests that use blood samples to detect the presence of antibodies in the blood. These tests can include several lab techniques and different serologic tests can be used for the diagnosis of different conditions. However, one thing that is common in all serologic tests is that they all focus on proteins produced by the immune system. This is an essential system that prevents any type of foreign invasion in the body that can cause any type of disease.

What are the different kinds of serologic tests?

There are many types of antibodies found in the body. Therefore, ought to be different types of tests that help in the detection of these antibodies. These various diagnosis tests include:

Agglutination assay: This is the type of test that is used to show if the antibodies that are caused to some antigens will lead to particle clumping.

Precipitation: This test is used to detect if there is any similarity between the antigens. It is done by detecting the presence of antibodies in the body fluids.

Western blot test: This is the kind of test that is done to detect the presence of antimicrobial antibodies in the blood. The diagnosis is done by measuring the reaction of antibodies with the target antigens.

When does one need a serologic test?

To understand the usefulness of serologic test, first, it is essential to know something about the immune system and how we fall sick. In immunology, antigens are the substances that launch a response from the immune system. Invisible to the naked eye, these antigens can to enter the body through various sources such as mouth, nasal openings, or broken skin. The harmful antigens for the body usually include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.

The human immune system is equipped with a defense mechanism that prevents it from antigens by producing antibodies. The particles which attach themselves to the antigens to deactivate them are usually referred to as antibodies. During the diagnosis, human blood is tested to find the kind of antibodies and antigens found in the blood sample. This diagnosis also helps in identifying the type of infection that is affecting the body.

When the body suffers from autoimmune disorders, it gets confused between healthy tissue and foreign objects. As a result, it starts producing antibodies that are not needed. With the help of serologic tests, these unnecessary antibodies can be detected and can help the doctor to find and cure autoimmune disorders.

How is a serologic test done?

For a serologic test, only a blood sample is needed. The test is conducted by a doctor at his office by taking a blood sample from the patient’s veins with the help of a needle. In the case of young children, the doctor can conduct the serologic test with the lancet.

The procedure is not time-consuming, and It generally does hurt severely. There are very fewer chances of bleeding or infection occurring.

What happens post a serologic test?

The kind of given treatment after a serologic test can vary individual to individual. The course of treatment after the test greatly depends on if the antibodies were detected or not. In addition to this, the treatment plan will also depend on the nature of the immune response and how severe it is.

The treatment plan consists of an antibiotic or any other type of medication that may help the body to fight infection. Even if the test results are normal, in some cases, the doctor might still ask the patient to get an additional test done. This happens when the doctor suspects that there is a possibility of an infection.

The bacteria, fungus, or the parasite, that has infected your body, has the potential to multiply over time. As a defense mechanism, the immune system will start producing more antibodies in response to this multiplication. As a result, the detection of the antibodies is easier when the infection gets worse.

In the serologic test results, the type of antibodies detected can also be related to chronic conditions such as autoimmune conditions.

What are the different types of results obtained from serologic tests?

The test results obtained from serologic tests can include:

Normal test results: When the test results are normal, it means that there are no antibodies in the patient and thus, the presence of any infection can be ruled out.

Abnormal test results: If the test results are abnormal, it indicates that the immune system has been producing antibodies in response to the presence of an antigen. These test results can help the doctor to diagnose any autoimmune disorders also.