Functional Health

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To Test or Not to Test? This is a question we must address.

Last week, Antibody tests became available wide spread. A few months ago, very few people knew what antibodies were, let alone how they worked. Today, everyone knows what antibodies are and many know how they work. The good news? When you test negative for both IgM and IgG Covid-19 antibodies. The bad news? When you test negative for IgM and IgG antibodies.

So, are antibodies good or bad? Do we want them or not?

There is so much misinformation floating around about testing for Covid-19 antibodies that I wanted to set the record straight. For many, you want to know, either way, if you are positive or negative.

Why? Let me explain.

First, understand that antibodies are our bodies' short- and long-term defense mechanism to viruses. There are 2 different antibodies produced in response to the Covid-19 virus, IgM and IgG. Think of IgM as a police force called in to respond to someone actively robbing a bank (Covid). Their job is to respond rapidly and get the bad guys out of the bank. Think of IgG as the security guard "on-duty" at the bank, after it is robbed. The job of the security guard is to recognize trouble and stop a problem before it starts. IgM is produced immediately after infection and IgG is produced within 7-10 days of infection. If you are IgM negative and IgG positive and symptom-free, it likely means you have been infected and have recovered. If you are IgM positive and IgG negative, it means you are recently infected, most likely infectious. You may or may not be symptomatic. If you are IgM negative and IgG negative, it means you have not been infected or significantly exposed. See the diagram below.

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Here is an important note, it takes a certain amount of exposure or "viral load" to initiate an infection and produce antibodies. With most other viruses, the flu virus, for example, we are exposed through social contact. We either get sick, get over it, and now have long-term immunity through antibody production or we don't get sick, get exposed and produce antibodies for long-term immunity. This is what creates "herd immunity". Herd immunity happens when anywhere from 40-70% of the population (herd) of a country is producing antibodies to a specific virus. Most recent data indicates that we are nowhere near herd immunity in the U.S. for Covid-19.

Since most of us are practicing social distancing, wearing masks, sanitizing everything and not hanging out with "the herd", it's hard to get the exposure to initiate long-term antibody production. This is a nasty virus and most people are afraid to take the risk of getting infected. It's not like we can throw a "corona party" like moms used to do for measles and invite all our friends over.

Many patients have asked, "Should I be tested?" That's clearly a personal decision. Here's are some of my thoughts. First, we believe it's always better to have more information than less. It can be important to know if you are actively infected and contagious (IgM positive), exposed, recovered and producing antibodies (IgM negative/IgG positive), or haven't had a viral exposure big enough to elicit an immune reaction. Piece of mind is GOOD. If you are IgM and IgG negative, it means you need to continue to be safe and aware, ESPECIALLY if you have a comorbidity such as hypertension, obesity or diabetes. There is insufficient data at this point to determine whether a person positive for antibodies, especially IgG, can be "reinfected." However, your body is clearly in a stronger position to fight the virus if antibodies are present. I'd rather have the security guard "on-duty" than not.

If you are interested in being tested, please reach out to our office at 908-722-0500 and schedule an appointment to pick up your prescription for Labcorp to be tested.

Helping Our Community Food Bank

A message from Somerville YMCA:

This week, we were alerted by Community FoodBank of NJ that they are having challenges sourcing food—something we're learning is a common challenge across the country today. We are therefore calling upon our community to help our neighbors in need. We humbly ask, if you are able, to provide a pre-constructed food security box/bag. Below is a list of items needed in each box/bag. Please ensure items are sealed/unopened and non-perishable.

Let’s pool together & help our community! If you can’t this week, consider signing up for a box next week.

You can also stop by our office or at your next appointment & drop off any items on the list and we will put together the boxes!

Sign up on the Link Below.

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Established in 2010, Functional Health is dedicated to helping patients achieve their health goals to ultimately live an active and healthy life.

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