The ANA (antinuclear antibody) titer blood test is used to measure the amount of ANA that happens to be in the blood. This is used to determine the possibility of an autoimmune disease being present. These antibodies are proteins that are only made when the body initiates an immune response. This response is usually triggered by an invading organism, but with an autoimmune disease, it malfunctions and is triggered to attack parts of a person’s body instead.
Any part of the body can be attacked by this kind of immune system response. That’s why having unexplained inflammation, a butterfly-shaped rash across the face, a low-grade fever, and other feelings of generally feeling unwell should be checked on if they continue in a prolonged fashion. Cell destruction could be occurring within the organs, central nervous system, or even within the blood cells themselves.
The symptoms of an autoimmune disease are difficult to diagnose because they are so similar to other conditions. That’s why the ANA titer blood test is so important. It can help a medical provider know the seriousness of an individual’s condition and begin to formulate a treatment plan.
What Do My Test Results Mean?
A positive ANA titer blood test indicates the presence of an autoimmune disease. Additional testing is usually performed as a follow-up to help determine what specific disease may be present. Up to 95% of people who are eventually diagnosed with lupus, for example, have the first step of the diagnostic process be a positive ANA titer blood test. Many medical providers will request a second test to confirm the positive results from the first test.
Up to 15% of people may have a positive ANA titer blood test, but not have the signs or symptoms of an autoimmune disease. Certain viral infections can cause this type of reaction from the body. False positives have also been known to occur.
A negative blood test result reduces and potentially eliminates the presence of an autoimmune disease, especially if a medical provider is suspecting lupus. Certain autoimmune diseases, however, can still be present with a negative test result. 5% of people with a lupus diagnosis, for example, had a negative test result at least once. Negative tests are rarely repeated.
The levels of ANA which are discovered during the testing process can indicate how serious the autoimmune disease happens to be or if it has been recently triggered. Once these antibodies are created, they will always be present, so a positive result may lead to other positive results. When the autoimmune disease is being suppressed, however, the antibodies may get to levels that are so low that they ANA titer blood test cannot detect them.
What Conditions Besides Lupus Come With a Positive Test?
There are various types of lupus, including drug-induced lupus, that all are commonly seen with a positive ANA titer blood test result. That’s why having the symptoms of arthritis, along with skin sensitivity to light and a rash, should generate an appointment to be checked by a medical provider.
Up to 70% of people who are eventually diagnosed with Sjogren syndrome will also have a positive ANA titer blood test. This syndrome causes individuals to have unusually dry eyes and a dry mouth. The symptoms are usually treated and additional testing typically occurs as Sjogren syndrome usually co-exists with another autoimmune disorder of some type.
Not all of the health conditions that cause a positive ANA titer blood test are potentially serious in nature. Raynaud’s disease, which causes parts of the body to feel cold and numb when there are cold temperatures or high levels of stress, is a common result from a positive test. MCTD, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases and disorders may also cause a positive test result at varying levels.
Certain cancers and specific medications may also cause a positive ANA titer blood test. This is why only a medical provider can interpret specific blood test results and their significance. Whatever the results may be, it is important to know that the diseases that create a positive test result can be effectively treated.
The ANA titer blood test results explained here are generally an indication that a medical provider may need to continue investigating a medical condition. Positive results indicate the potential for an autoimmune disease. Negative results indicate something else is happening to cause bothersome symptoms. Speak with your doctor about your test results so that an appropriate treatment plan can be developed.