What Is an Antinuclear Antibody Test
An antinuclear antibody (ANA) test is a sensitive screening tool used to detect autoimmune diseases, including lupus. Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) are antibodies that are directed against certain structures within a cell’s nucleus (thus, antinuclear antibody). ANAs are found in particular patterns in people with autoimmune diseases (those in which a person’s immune system works against his or her own body).
An ANA test is done on a sample of a person’s blood. The test determines the strength of the antibodies by measuring how many times the person’s blood must be diluted to get a sample that is free of antibodies.
Does a Positive ANA Test Mean That I Have Lupus?
Not necessarily. The antinuclear antibody (ANA) test is positive in most people who have lupus, but it also may be positive in many people who are healthy or have another autoimmune disease. Therefore, a positive ANA test alone is not adequate for the diagnosis of lupus. There must be at least three additional clinical features from the list of 11 features for the diagnosis to be made.
How Is Lupus Treated?
The type of lupus treatment prescribed will depend on several factors, including the person’s age, type of drugs he or she is taking, overall health, medical history, and location and severity of disease.
Because lupus is a condition that can change over time and is not always predictable, a critical part of good care includes periodic visits with a knowledgeable, accessible doctor, such as a rheumatologist.
Some people with mild features of the disease do not require treatment, while people with serious involvement (such as kidney complications) may require powerful medications. Drugs used to treat lupus include: