What are Autoimmune Lab Tests?

April 14, 2010

When there is a severe derangement of both the human system and its associated network, it can cause a number of autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases are dangerous as they can cause damage to various organs. These diseases are usually caused when the body produces a response against it own tissues that is inappropriate. Antibodies are created by the immune system and these antibodies are unable to recognize the body’s constituents as “self”. As a result of this the antibodies end up attacking the bodies own cells and tissues.

What causes autoimmune diseases is generally unknown; however, it is generally believed to be due to some inherited predisposition. In certain cases we find that a bacteria sets off some kind of response wherein normal cells are attacked as there is some resemblance to the microorganism that causes infection.

To diagnose auto immune diseases the doctor takes cues from the symptoms the individual exhibits. In addition to this he also does a physical examination and sends for some laboratory tests. It very often becomes difficult to diagnose autoimmune diseases in the early stages. This is because some of the symptoms of the disease are not very specific. Laboratory tests are very often not too helpful to confirm the diagnosis.

Sometimes the individual may exhibit some mild symptoms of the disease and may test positive with a nonspecific blood test. This could be a trying time for both the patient and the physician as there has to be regular follow-up. Sometimes the symptoms last for a short period and it may also not be anything serious. Patients with autoimmune diseases generally exhibit a number of symptoms such as pain in the joints, tiredness, low-grade fever, and/or some rashes that are unexplained.

Your doctor may recommend the ANA (Antinuclear Antibody test) to diagnose autoimmune disease. This is mainly done to diagnose systemic lupus erythematosus. This depends on the symptoms you exhibit. Your doctor may also ask you to go in for some other autoantibody tests.  There are some other tests such as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein which may also be recommended. Once all these tests are done including the ANA test you may have to go in for additional tests. These are used, in combination with the patient’s clinical history, in the diagnosis of other autoimmune disorders.

Some infections and drugs may cause you to exhibit results that are false positive. Talk to the doctor about the medication you are taking. Once they are stopped the symptoms would also go away.

Submitted by M T on April 14, 2010 at 01:22

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