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IgE and Asthma

Why Is IgE Important and How Does IgE Affect My Asthma?

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Updated September 03, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, is a natural substance in your body that plays an important role in the development of allergic asthma. Increased levels of IgE may result when you are exposed to triggers, such as:

Increased levels of IgE may contribute to the following symptoms:

How IgE Affects Your Asthma

When you're exposed to certain allergens, your body releases IgE, which then binds with several types of cells:

When IgE binds with any of these cells, it can stimulate your immune system, cause your airways to become narrow and inflamed, and make your asthma symptoms worse.

Should I Get My IgE Level Tested?

Because IgE may be elevated in allergic asthma, testing your IgE level helps your doctor determine if you will benefit from treatment to lower your IgE level. In order to test your IgE level, your doctor will order a simple blood test.

If you have poorly controlled asthma, you may want to talk with your doctor about getting your IgE level tested. You may also want to discuss ways you can avoid asthma triggers that may be increasing your IgE levels.

Are There Specific IgE Treatments?

There is an anti-IgE treatment called Xolair (omalizumab). You may benefit from anti-IgE treatment if you:

  • Have moderate to severe persistent asthma
  • Suffer from allergies all year
  • Have not found relief with inhaled steroids and other therapies
  • Have an elevated IgE blood level

Sources:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed: November 21, 2009. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Consumer Information. Accessed November 21, 2009. IgE's Role In Allergic Asthma

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