ANA Blood Test: What It Means and What It Tells About Your Health

An anal blood test is a medical procedure undertaken by doctors in the laboratory to test the presence of antinuclear antibody in the blood sample. It helps in providing guidance to doctors during diagnosis in order to rule out any autoimmune disorder in the body.

In this post, you will discover the meaning of ANA in a blood test, processing time, cost and what it tells about your health in case you have a positive ANA test.

NOTE: You may also read my articles about RDW and MPV blood test to understand what it means and what it tells about your health. 

What Is an Antinuclear Antibody Test (ANA in Blood Test)?

What does it stand for ANA? Well, Antinuclear antibodies are denoted as ANA and it is also known as an antinuclear factor (ANF). According to Wikipedia, ANA blood test helps in the measurement of antinuclear autoantibodies in your blood.

According to Dr Judith Marcin on WebMD, the body is known to produce antibodies that help in fighting infection in the body by activating the immune system. However, these antibodies may mistakenly target healthy cells and tissues.

Therefore, those types of antibodies that attack healthy cells and tissues are known as antinuclear antibodies (ANA). This may result in an autoimmune response.

Why would my doctor order ANA blood test? Well, your doctor might order your ANA blood test in case you have symptoms such as hair loss, joint or muscle pain, mild fever, tiredness, weakness, rashes, light sensitivity as well as numbness and tingling in either your hands or feet.

When Is An Antinuclear Antibody Test Needed?

According to Dr Sheetal Gavankar on Cleveland clinic, a blood test of ANA is considered only when a patient begins to show signs and symptoms of an autoimmune disorder.

This type of blood test only helps doctors to identify types of autoimmune disorders but not in the diagnosis of a specific disorder.

Your doctor will go ahead to conduct more specific and detailed testing to help determine the type of autoimmune disease resulting in the symptoms in case you test positive.

Do You Need To Prepare For The Test?

According to doctors on mayo clinic, it is advisable to eat and drink normally before undergoing ANA test. This is only advisable in case you are supposed to go for ANA test only. Your doctor will remove a small sample of blood from your vein.

It is also important to inform your doctors about any medications or supplements that you are taking. This is because; there are certain drugs such as seizure and heart medications that can affect the accuracy of the ANA blood test normal range.

Ana Blood Test Processing Time

According to doctors on WebMD, ANA test usually take a couple of minutes where the lab tech will take a sample of blood from the vein in your arm.

Your upper arm will be tied using as a band so that the veins to be filled with blood and swell up. The identified site will be cleaned using antiseptic and a needle will be inserted into your vein. Your blood will be collected in a tube.

The doctor will cover the site with gauze and a bandage after finishing in order enhancing stoppage of any bleeding. The blood test will then be undertaken.

However, you will experience the following symptoms after removal of blood in your vein for testing. These symptoms are however slight and they include:

  • Slight stinging during removal of blood
  • A small bruise
  • Dizziness
  • Bleeding
  • Soreness

Ana Blood Test Cost

The confidential blood examination is all over the outpatient and inpatient clinics in the world. The cost of ANA in a blood test is variable depending on the location of the clinic. Some states or town blood screening departments in a clinic charge different prices.

However, according to a medical survey by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, the average price for the ANA test is about $24.00. The result may take about 1-2 days depending on the weather, holiday or lab delays.

It is also important to note that the ANA blood test should not be undertaken during the fasting period. You may experience weird symptoms such as dizziness and even fainting.

What It Means and What It Tells About Your Health

The ANA test results interpretation may be either positive or negative. Negative ANA test could indicate that autoimmune disease is likely not to be there. There are some groups of people who have negative ANA test but test positive for other antibodies.

People with a high level of ANA in their blood usually test positive during ANA blood test. The reading value of positive ANA is greater than or equal to titer 1:160. This may result in autoimmune diseases such as lupus that causes damage to the joints, skin, and other organs.

According to doctors on WebMD, a positive ANA test may indicate the following diseases in your body. These diseases include:

  • Sjögren’s syndrome which may result in a positive ANA test and joint pain
  • Scleroderma which is an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin and other connective tissues as well as other major organs.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis which may result in joint destruction, pain, swelling, and stiffness. This may also result in a problem with the lungs, heart, eyes and other organs.
  • Polymyositis is an autoimmune disease that results in pain, weakness, and inflammation of the muscles as well as the appearance of a skin rash.
  • Juvenile chronic arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease that mainly causes disorder among children.
  • Dermatomyositis is a rare disease that mainly causes weak muscles and a rash
  • Polyarteritis nodosa is a rare disease that occurs due to the autoimmune condition that causes blood vessels to swell up and damage organs.

It is important to note that most laboratory results differ. Therefore, it is advisable to talk to your doctor about the level and meaning of each value. However, you may also experience a positive ANA test with the following conditions:

  • Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Liver diseases
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lung diseases -idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

FURTHER REFERENCES

  1. ANA test: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ana-test/about/pac-20385204
  2. Anti-nuclear antibody: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-nuclear_antibody
  3. What Is an Antinuclear Antibody Test? https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-an-antinuclear-antibody-test#1
  4. Antinuclear Antibody Panel (ANA Test): https://www.healthline.com/health/antinuclear-antibody-panel
  5. What is the ANA blood test? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313813.php