Protein electrophoresis, also known as SPEP, is an important test measures the specific proteins in the blood. While our body contains many proteins, you need to know the number of specific proteins available. This test groups proteins based on their electrical charge and plays a key role when testing for abnormal or relatively harmful substances such as the M proteins.
A high protein level in the blood is normally a sign of different conditions and infections. Therefore, if you have M proteins in your blood, you might be suffering from Myeloma or multiple myeloma. This is a cancerous condition that affects the body in more than one way. Myeloma affects the white blood cells, which is charged with fighting infections and pathogens. It affects the bone marrow, an important part of the body. This test thus tests for these proteins and other immunoglobulins that might pose harm to the body.
Apart from diagnosing toxic proteins, this test also discovers any condition that is affecting the plasma cells. Some of these include monoclonal gammopathy and primary amyloidosis, mostly shown by high protein content in the blood.
Why should I undergo this test?
There are several reasons why you should take a protein electrophoresis test. Keep in mind that prevention is better than cure, and therefore, you are better off knowing earlier than later. It is possible to diagnose some of the conditions soon enough and get the necessary medical intervention. You will also undergo this test if your doctor suspects that there is a condition affecting your plasma cells.
This is usually visible from several symptoms. Therefore, you need to undergo this test if you are ever tired, experiencing unexplained weight loss, bone pain, too much thirst, constipation, frequent urination, fever, back pain, persistent illness, high levels of calcium, and nausea. These are several symptoms, but they all point out that your plasma cells may be having a problem. Therefore, get in touch with your healthcare provider if you keep on experiencing one of these.
Apart from the protein electrophoresis test, your doctor can also conduct several other related tests. These include serum immunofixation, bone marrow biopsy, and immunotyping, which is necessary when finding out the exact type of M proteins present. Other tests include X-rays, kidney and liver blood tests, blood calcium and electrolyte test, and complete blood count. All these are necessary if you want to find out whether you have a high protein count in your blood or if there are toxic proteins available.
What results should I expect?
There is no standard result. Therefore, once you get tested, expect varying results. These differ depending on age, gender, health history, and the doctor’s method when checking you. The results that you receive do not necessarily mean that you have a problem. Therefore, you must ask your healthcare provider to break down the results for you. Keep in mind that serum proteins can be albumin or globulin, and therefore all the readings will start from there.
How do you get tested?
This is a relatively easy test. The doctor or healthcare provider will take your blood sample and perform a blood test. The moderately difficult part of the test is drawing blood, which is normally done in your arm or hand. Therefore, your doctor will use a needle to target one of the veins in these two regions. This shouldn’t take you long. Keep in mind that your diet and lifestyle habit will influence the test results. Therefore, learn how you can eat cleanly and healthily.
What are the risks?
Well, there aren’t as many risks except those posed by using a needle to draw blood. Blood tests involving needles have their fair share of disadvantages. You could bleed, get an infection, bruise, or even feel lightheaded. Therefore, make sure that the doctor properly cleans the needle’s entry point so that you don’t end up with an infection. You will also feel some pain when the doctor drives the needle right through your arms. As a result, you might end up feeling all sore and slightly in pain.
What are the precautions?
Like in all the other tests, you don’t need to prepare yourself for protein electrophoresis. However, before this, kindly talk to your healthcare provider, who will advise you what you need to do. You will know whether you need to stop eating certain foods or drinking your favorite alcoholic drinks. You will also learn whether you need to put a halt to some of your medication that might affect the test results. Therefore, come clean and tell your healthcare provider all about the medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements that form your daily habits.
Your doctor is sworn to secrecy, and whether you are using illegal or unprescribed supplements, do not fear to tell him. Keep in mind that your health is his or her greatest concern.
Other conditions that might warrant such a test
Other conditions may call for protein electrophoresis apart from the ones that we discussed. Remember, anything that threatens to mess with your body plasma should be subject to such a test. Therefore, your doctor will perform this on you if you have thyroid problems, diabetes, anemia, liver disease, and a range of autoimmune diseases. Do not also forget that poor nutrition and the inability to absorb certain nutrients will also warrant such a test.
All in all, your healthcare provider should always be in a position to tell if you need it. If you do, do not freak out. I am pretty sure that he or she will prep you for this. Just master some courage and let them draw blood.
Certain proteins pose a risk when spotted in your blood. As a result, doctors are forced to perform protein electrophoresis to establish anything abnormal. You can also opt for this test if you have any of the conditions that we have mentioned.
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