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Everything Related to Antinuclear Antibody or ANA Test
Everything Related to Antinuclear Antibody or ANA Test

Everything Related to Antinuclear Antibody or ANA Test

An ANA test can help to identify antinuclear antibodies or ANA in your blood. A part of the human immune system is comprised of antibodies to fight infection. Antinuclear antibodies attack the tissues of your body by targeting the nucleus of each cell. In general, a positive ANA test means that the immune system has initiated an autoimmune reaction to your own tissue. Some people might have positive ANA tests even though there are no outward symtpoms. Your doctor at the walk in blood test clinic in London may suggest an ANA test to screen for autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma or lupus.

What is an ANA or antinuclear antibody test?

An Antinuclear antibody or ANA test detects the presence of antinuclear antibodies in the blood. If there are antinuclear antibodies in your blood, then this might mean you have an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder can cause the immune system to attack your own tissues, cells, or organs, leading to serious complications.

Antibodies are actually proteins that the immune system prepares to fight foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. But an antinuclear antibody attacks healthy cells - hence"antinuclear" since it targets the nucleus (centre) of the cells.

Other names include – antinuclear antibody panel, ANA, FANA, fluorescent antinuclear antibody.

What is an ANA test used for?

An ANA test can help to diagnose autoimmune disorders such as:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE – This is the common kind of lupus which is a severe disease affecting different body parts such as blood vessels, brain, joints and kidneys.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – This is a condition that leads to severe pain and swelling of the joints, in the feet and hands
  • Scleroderma – This rare disease can affect the blood vessels, joints and skin.
  • Sjogren's syndrome – This is a rare disease that can affect moisture-making glands of your body.

Why do you need to perform an ANA test?

Your walk-in blood test health care provider might suggest an ANA test when you have symptoms of lupus or another autoimmune disorder. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Swelling and joint pain
  • Red and butterfly-shaped rash like lupus

Why should testing be done?

Different rheumatic diseases show similar signs and symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain and fever. Though an ANA test cannot verify a specific diagnosis, it might rule out some diseases. If the ANA test result is positive, then your blood may be tested to detect the presence of specific antinuclear antibodies.

How can you prepare for an ANA test?

An ANA test requires a blood sample, there are no pre test requirementsso you can eat and drink normally before the test. Certain drugs can affect the accuracy of the test and so these should be discussed with a clinician prior to undergoing the test.

What happens when you go for an ANA test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in the arm with the help of a small needle. Once the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood is collected into the test tube or vial. You might feel a sharp scratch when the needle goes in or out however the phlebotomy (blood taking) procedure is typically painless and over within a minute.

Will you require anything to prepare for an ANA test?

You do not require special preparations to perform an ANA test.

Are there any risks involved with the test?

There is little risk with a blood test but you might feel slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle is inserted but if you experience any of these symptoms, they will resolve very quickly.

What are the results from the test?

The presence of antinuclear antibodies provides a positive test result. Many people without any kind of disease show positive ANA tests especially women who are above 65 years. Certain infectious diseases and cancers are related to the development of antinuclear antibodies, like some drugs.

If the doctor suspects you are suffering from an autoimmune disease, then they will probably perform several additional tests. The result of an ANA test is the information that your doctor at the walk-in blood test near me may use to identify the exact cause of your symptoms.

What will the results mean?

A positive result for an ANA test means that antinuclear antibodies had been found in the blood. You might get a positive result if:

  • You have lupus or SLE lupus.
  • You are suffering from a viral infection.
  • You have a different kind of autoimmune disease.

A positive result will not always mean you have a disease. Some healthy people might have antinuclear antibodies in their blood. There are certain medicines that can affect the results and if the ANA test results are positive, your health care provider will probably perform more tests, especially if you are have symptoms of the disease. If you have questions about the test results, it is advised that you talk to your health care provider about it.

What else should you know about an ANA test?

Antinuclear antibody levels seem to increase with age and almost one-third of healthy adults over 65 years might have a positive ANA test result.