What Is An ELISA Test Used For?

ELISA tests or Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay tests are a type of detecting method to find antigens and proteins. In layman’s terms, it is a test that will find out if you have some kind of disease.

If you have been asked to take an ELISA test, the unknown about the procedure can be daunting. To help ease your worries, we will explain everything you need to know.

What Is ELISA?

When biological scientists use their elisa kits, they will have a sample of your blood or bodily fluids and force that fluid to interact with enzyme-based chemicals.

The interaction will happen in a petri dish outside of your body, which means you don’t have to worry about any reactions happening to you as you wait for the results.

ELISA tests can be used to help humans, poultry, farm animals, plants, and more. The test itself is about detecting a known issue rather than protecting a specific animal group.

How Does The ELISA Test Work?

There are multiple different types of ELISA tests, but they all boil down to the same concept. Adding an enzyme to a petri dish that contains your blood. These enzymes will be searching for a specific protein. If they find the protein, they lock onto it and release color.

The stronger the color is, the more of this protein has been found. The scientists then use a numerical system to analyze the color depth and confirm how much of your blood contains the protein (if it does at all).

Your doctors will use different enzymes to find the protein, depending on what they believe may be in your blood. Not all enzymes will care about the protein they are looking for, which is why the coloration system can help doctors quickly detect if the suspected illness is within your system.

What Does The Test Diagnose?

Because ELISA tests are used to identify proteins and antibodies within someone’s blood, they can be used to detect diseases that can be difficult to identify through other means such as swab tests.

Depending on the depth of our knowledge about the diseases, it can also be used to find more specific details about the illness too.

For example, ELISA can be used to confirm if you have COVID-19. We don’t know a lot about COVID-19 as it is a relatively new virus. ELISA can also be used to detect HIV. Despite its longer history, the scientific community has only recently started to look into HIV in more detail. This additional detail means that ELISA tests can be used to identify which type of HIV has been contracted.

The test won’t automatically produce a list of possible illnesses, instead, the scientist needs to choose which enzyme or illness they want to choose or identify.

What Should You Expect In The Test?

As a patient, there isn’t much you will have to do or witness. The majority of the testing process will happen in the labs. The only thing you will be present for is the blood drawing process.

You can expect a healthcare worker to sterilize your arm or leg using an antiseptic wipe. This is so the area is clean and ready for the needle to be inserted.

The healthcare worker will likely use your upper arm as the needle site. The needle will be inserted into the vein, a sample will be collected, and then the needle will be removed again. At this point, the healthcare worker will put a small bandage over the insertion site, and they will apply a small amount of pressure to stop any excess bleeding.

The healthcare worker may also apply a bandage to the area, to help keep the pressure for as long as possible.

With the blood collected, the lab may take weeks to return with the results. When they have returned, your healthcare worker will provide you with the details and will explain the next course of action.

What Are The Risks Of ELISA?

The risks of ELISA are extremely minimal, as the only situation that could affect you is during the blood sample process.

When the healthcare worker takes your blood you may feel slightly dizzy or faint. This should pass after an hour or so.

Around the insertion site, you may develop a bruise, and blood may continue to drip from the needle wound.

The worst issue you may face is an infection from the insertion site. If you notice any pus or swelling, call your doctor.


ELISA is used to detect diseases. The test involves the patient’s blood, which is  mixed with color-creating enzymes in a petri dish. The only risk to the patient is from infection when the blood is drawn.

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