The antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
If your doctor thinks you might have lupus, they may ask you to take blood tests to check for antibodies in your blood. The most common antibody test is called the antinuclear antibody (ANA) test.
What is the ANA test?
Everyone has antibodies that fight off illness, but if you have lupus, you may also have antibodies that attack healthy cells and tissues. Some of these antibodies are called antinuclear antibodies. Doctors use the ANA test to find out if you have antinuclear antibodies in your blood.
97% of people with lupus have antinuclear antibodies in their blood.
My ANA test was positive. Does that mean I have lupus?
If your doctor says your ANA test is “positive,” that means you have antinuclear antibodies in your blood — but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have lupus. In fact, a large portion of patients with a positive ANA do not have lupus.
Diagnosing lupus is like putting together a puzzle. There’s no single test that can give doctors a yes or no answer.
In addition to your ANA test results, your doctor will look at many different pieces of information, like your symptoms, medical history, and family history. They may also ask you to take more blood tests to check for different kinds of antibodies in your blood. If enough of the pieces fit together, you may be diagnosed with lupus.
The ANA test for drug-induced lupus
Drug-induced lupus is a disease similar to lupus that is caused by certain medicines. The mild symptoms that are caused by the use of these medicines ceases after it is discontinued.
Some people with drug-induced lupus have a type of antinuclear antibodies called anti-histones in their blood. Doctors use a special version of the ANA test (sometimes called the anti-histone test) to find out if you have anti-histones.
In addition to your ANA test results, your doctor will look at other information —like your symptoms, medicines you’re taking, and your medical history — to figure out if you have drug-induced lupus.
Our health educators are available to answer your questions and give you the help you need.