What is the role of immunoglobulin E (IgE) measurement in the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis (hay fever)?

Updated: Dec 26, 2018
  • Author: Javed Sheikh, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Answer

This is a measurement of the total level of IgE in the blood (regardless of specificity). While patients with allergic rhinitis are more likely to have an elevated total IgE level than the normal population, this test is neither sensitive nor specific for allergic rhinitis. As many as 50% of patients with allergic rhinitis have normal levels of total IgE, while 20% of nonaffected individuals can have elevated total IgE levels. Therefore, this test is generally not used alone to establish the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis, but the results can be helpful in some cases when combined with other factors.


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