When exposed to a pathogen, your body’s immune system creates antibodies in order to fight the infection. However, a specific kind of antibody, antinuclear antibodies, actually do damage to your body because they attack your tissues, targeting cells’ nucleus.
An ANA blood test can determine the amount of antinuclear antibodies in your blood. A positive ANA result may indicate that your immune system has a misdirected attack to your tissue, which doesn’t necessarily mean you have a disease or are unhealthy. A few reasons why you might have to get an ANA test is to see if you have
- rheumatoid arthritis,
- Other auto-immune diseases
Obtaining an ANA test can be helpful because it may rule out some diseases. If ANA results are positive, it may prompt your physician to conduct additional blood tests to determine which specific type of antinuclear antibodies are present to determine if you have a certain disease. Some blood tests require special preparations such as fasting, but the ANA does not. You may want to let your physician know the medications you take because certain drugs can compromise the accuracy of the blood test.
Remember that a positive ANA result doesn’t necessarily mean you are unhealthy:
- women 65 years or older tend to have positive ANA and are also perfectly healthy.
- Some chronic infectious diseases have been associated with antinuclear bodies such as mononucleosis.
- There are some medications that may trigger the creation of antinuclear antibodies like blood pressure lowering medication and some anti seizure medication.
As you can see there are a number of things that may cause antinuclear antibodies to be formed in your body. The ANA test may be one piece of information your physician needs in order to figure out why you are showing the symptoms that you are.