Is Your First Outbreak Surely Herpes?
Are your friends making fun of the recently developed sores on your lips calling them herpes? They must be stupid, right? But are you sure it is not herpes? Especially when it is your first outbreak, you cannot say it is herpes and also cannot be that sure that it not herpes. Recognizing herpes with only a few symptoms is not a wise thing and in today’s world where there are several other kinds of allergies present, it is almost impossible to conclude that you have herpes based on just a few changes occurring in your body. Here IgG test (also known as western blot) for herpes comes into picture. If you are a long-time sufferer of any type of herpes infection, you might be aware of this herpes test.
In case you have recently been diagnosed with herpes, this test might have seem unreliable to you. Well, the problem is not in the test but it is our inability to accept the truth that is creating the confusion most of the time. Although there are some chances that IgG herpes test or western blot gives false results, but all other times it has been found to be perfectly accurate. And whenever it gives false results, there is a reason behind it. We need to have a deeper understanding of IgG herpes test because at the end of the day, it is the outcome of this test that decides the future of millions of people of the United States every year.
What is IgG Herpes Test?
All the herpes patients surely know the importance of IgG herpes test but only a few have the right and complete knowledge about this test. You might know it by the other name- western blot, but the procedure and interpretation of the outcomes of the test are what we expect you to understand. This is of utmost importance not only for herpes patients but also for those who are luckily not infected yet. Wondering why such people would need this? See, the rate at which herpes is spreading and cold sores are seen on a new face every other day, you may too need it anytime soon in future. So, let us see a bit about all the testing methods of herpes, and then we will tell you why IgG herpes test or western blot is famous among doctors and patients of herpes infection.
Ways to Get Tested for Herpes
Although the symptoms of herpes-like cold sores will tell the world including you that you have herpes, you need to undergo certain medical tests before concluding anything about herpes. If it was any other ordinary infection, it would have been easier for us to ignore. But I am talking about herpes, a sexually transmitted disease, and the infection that will not leave you once you are caught by the virus. You cannot even dare to think of ignoring something like herpes.
Concluding that you have herpes only by looking at some of the typical symptoms like a cold sores is not a good idea because the symptoms of herpes vary greatly from person to person. Not only in terms of intensity, but the symptoms of herpes may also vary from person to person in terms of duration. Cold sores also may not appear at all in some patients and in some others with a weaker immune system; you will see reoccurring colds sores. Here are some other methods that medically test herpes.
Testing Herpes With a Cell Culture
A sample is taken from the skin affected with cold sores and this sample is examined in a lab for the presence of herpes virus. This is accurate when your herpes infection is at its peak when fluid is oozing out of the cold sores, but once the colds sores begin to heal, the cell culture may give you false negative results. Herpes virus antigen detection is another type of herpes test where you take the sample from cold sores. This sounds fine for those who have cold sores on their body, but what about the others who never develop any cold sores and still have herpes? For all of them we have blood tests.
Polymerase Chain Reaction Test for Herpes
This is one test that can clearly differentiate between herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2. It is used only in cases when the herpes virus has chronically affected the brain.
All the other herpes tests look for the presence of herpes virus but this is a blood test which works differently. The antibodies for herpes are present in your body after sometime from when you got the infection. By confirming the presence of antibodies, we can conclude that the person has herpes. Blood tests can be used when a person has no visible symptoms but has concerns about having herpes. There are two antibodies in blood which are searched for in the blood test- IgG and IgM. You will get to know the difference between these two types of tests, but let us first see some more details about IgG herpes test.
How IgG Test for Herpes Works
IgG herpes test examines the blood not for the presence of the herpes virus but for the presence of some antibodies. IgG and IgM are the two antibodies produced by the immune system against the herpes virus. The antibodies may take sometime and right after the infection you may find nothing in your blood, but if you wait for sometime, you will surely see these two in your blood. Herpes IgM antibodies usually are detectable by herpes blood tests within 7-10 days after initial infection.
On the other hand IgG antibodies take some time and are seen after considerable amount of time. Now you must be wondering why we use IgG herpes test when we can test for herpes with IgM antibodies? The question is really valid and we have answered it in the subsequent sections.
Testing herpes with the help of IgG herpes test is pretty simple. You just have to take the blood sample of herpes patient and check whether it has some amount of the IgM or IgG antibodies or not. See in the next section what positive IgG herpes test means.
Positive Herpes IgG Test
A positive IgG herpes test indicates that you have herpes. It also tells you that you have been infected with herpes for quite long time now. No matter you had an outbreak in recent past or not, you can carry the herpes virus in your body silently without realizing that you are infected. IgG herpes test detects the herpes virus that are living in the host for almost four months. In some cases it is seen that the IgG antibodies are developed earlier than this, but in most of the other cases they develop at a later stage.
If your blood test also comes out to be positive for IgM antibodies, it is usually concluded that your infection is recent. If it is found that both of the antibodies are present in your blood, nothing can be concluded about the time of infection. But positive IgG herpes test means that you are infected with herpes.
This is the truth and you might not find it that easy to accept, but your rejection will not change the truth. If the IgG herpes test is saying that you are infected, this clearly means that you are infected with herpes. And it is better to accept this soon as this will make a huge difference in the herpes treatment.
Accuracy of IgG Herpes Test
IgG herpes test outcomes may be false negative and false positive. Have you heard anything about these two terms? If not let me tell you that false-negative IgG herpes test implies that you have herpes and the IgG herpes test is not indicating that. False positive herpes test results is when the outcome of IgG herpes test says that you have herpes, but actually you are not infected. Since it is herpes, both the scenarios will have drastic outputs on your life. This is why we should understand the importance of the accuracy of IgG herpes test.
Although there are only a few chances of the IgG herpes blood test giving wrong results, you should know that none of the herpes test is 100% accurate. If the results of the IgG herpes test or any other blood test comes out to be totally opposite to your medical condition, just don’t panic and talk to your doctor about it. In herpes nothing is perfect, neither the cure for herpes nor the diagnostics. Unfortunate but it is the truth.
IgG vs IgM
These two are the type of antibodies that are present in your blood at times if you are infected with herpes. The key difference between IgG and IgM is that IgM is the first antibody that appears in blood. Although it is the very first antibody, it disappears after some time. On the other hand, IgG remains in blood all the time. We do not usually recommend IgM test for herpes because of the following reasons.
- IgM test cannot distinguish between herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex type 2. Hence with this test you will live in a dilemma of which virus is causing herpes in your body.
- It is seen that sometime the IgM herpes tests’ positive results can be misleading due to the reaction of the same antibody against the other members of the herpes family.
- IgM herpes test also often leads to a false conclusion that the tested patient must have recently acquired the herpes infection. But this is not true and IgM antibodies may be present in your blood even at the time of third herpes outbreak.
Taking all these factors into consideration, it is better to go for IgG herpes test in case you are choosing blood test for knowing your herpes infection status.
When IgG Herpes Test Fails
Can IgG herpes test fail? Of course yes. Like all other diagnostics for herpes, IgG herpes test and other blood tests are not 100% accurate. This is not because of the testing methodology or techniques have some loophole, but because of the nature of the herpes virus.
If you go for IgG herpes test as soon as you suffer from your first herpes outbreak, you may get wrong results. IgG herpes test gives most accurate results only when the sample is taken after months of the first herpes infection. At what time you are giving your blood sample for test determine the accuracy of the IgG herpes test and all other blood tests.
Type-specific IgG herpes test
You can go for a type-specific IgG herpes test to determine whether you are infected with the herpes simplex type 1 or herpes simplex type 2. Although it is thought that oral herpes is caused by HSV1 and genital herpes is caused by the other type- HSV2, but this generalization is not correct all the times. It is seen that HSV1 often causes cold sores on the genital parts as well. In recent studies it is seen that HSV1 can also cause genital herpes. So, to find out which virus is bothering you all the time, go for IgG herpes test.
It is important to get herpes tested as early as it is possible because with these concrete and reliable medical tests only you can accept that you are infected. Early diagnosis has another major benefit for those who are close to you. The earlier you get to know that you have herpes, the more lives you will be able to save from the herpes virus. For these two reasons we need herpes tests like blood test and cell culture. You can either choose one or go for both just to be double sure. It is a good idea to use cell culture as the basic test as it is done at early stage, and later on you can go for IgG herpes test to get more detailed and reliable results.
The next immediate step just after the confirmation that you are a victim of herpes is searching for an effective treatment option. Click here to know details about how one can cure herpes and its mental, physical and emotional trauma.