An ANA test is a test that is used to find antinuclear antibodies within the blood. As you may already know, the immune system makes antibodies all the time to help your body fight against infection. When someone has lupus, the body creates antibodies that often attack healthy tissue throughout your body; by targeting cell’s nucleus.
If you have an ANA test, and it comes back positive it most likely means that your immune system is attacking healthy parts of your body. This is known as an autoimmune reaction. In some cases, people with a positive ANA test may still be healthy.
If a doctor believes that symptoms you are experiencing can be related to an autoimmune condition, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hughes syndrome or scleroderma they will likely refer you to have an ANA test.
Autoimmune diseases will often cause symptoms such as painful joints, fatigue and mood changes. Although an ANA test will not determine the specific autoimmune disease, it will help indicate if there is one and therefore help with what steps to take next (for example testing for a specific type of antibody).
To do an ANA test, you have to simply have a blood test. Once a nurse has done this, they will send the sample to a lab to be analysed.
Once the test results back your doctor or nurse will go over the results and the next step to take.
It is important to note that some ANA test will come back positive but do not mean that you necessarily have an autoimmune disease. It can be a sign of an infection or because you are a woman over the age of 65.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.