Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guest Post: 5 Reasons for Having Saliva Tests Done

The blog post below is from Jennifer Gonzales. Thanks to Jennifer for keeping us apprised of things we can do to help our health! For more information about guest posts on Hearing Sparks (I love them!), see here

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U.S. Army Medical Research Unit - Improving malaria diagnostics, Kisumu, Kenya 05-2010Saliva tests can help diagnose a number of conditions. They are not as invasive as blood tests and offer more accurate results in some cases. They also cost less and can often be done at home. Saliva tests involve producing a small amount of saliva, which is then checked for certain abnormalities, such as high or low levels of proteins or hormones.

1. Thyroid Imbalances 
People who show signs of a thyroid imbalance, such as fatigue, weight changes, or hair loss, can have saliva tests done to help diagnose their condition. A saliva test checks a person's hormone levels. When the levels are high, this can indicate an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism. Low levels are associated with an under-active thyroid or hypothyroidism. Saliva tests might produce better results than blood tests since the amount of hormones in the bloodstream is much smaller than the amount found in a saliva sample.

2. Ovulation
Women who are trying to get pregnant can use a saliva test to find out if they're ovulating. The test involves placing saliva on a slide and looking at it through a microscope to see the pattern it forms when it dries. A pattern shaped like a fern indicates an increase in estrogen which is associated with ovulation. The most accurate results occur when the test is taken no earlier than two days before ovulation usually begins, or no later than two days after it typically starts. This test should not be used to help prevent pregnancy.

3. Food Allergies and Sensitivities 
People who suspect that they have a food allergy or sensitivity can have saliva tests done to help determine which food is causing the problem. The test works by showing the levels of antibodies produced in response to certain types of food. Abnormal levels of antibodies indicate a sensitivity or allergy. This type of test is less invasive than the blood tests and skin prick tests that are usually done to find out what is causing an allergic reaction.

4. Infectious Diseases 
Saliva tests can be used to determine whether or not a person has HIV-1. The test device is placed inside the mouth for up to five minutes and then is sent to a lab to be checked for antibodies to HIV-1. These tests produce highly accurate results and were officially approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2004. Saliva tests have also shown potential for accurately diagnosing other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis C, parasitic infections, and Helicobacter pylori infections.

5. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Women who show signs of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), such as hair loss, irregular menstrual cycles, or infertility can have saliva tests done to help diagnose this condition. These tests measure the amount of hormones in the saliva sample. Results that show high levels of androgens, such as testosterone or DHEA, and low levels of progesterone are associated with PCOS.

Saliva tests generally provide a safe, accurate, and more comfortable way to detect certain conditions. People who use them should keep in mind that some conditions will also require other medical tests to confirm a positive diagnosis.

 Jennifer Gonzales is a freelance writer, who blogs about a diverse range of health-related topics. Jennifer recommends saliva testing as a fast and efficient way to be diagnosed for certain medical conditions.

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