Your Anti-Nuclear Antibody Level

What Causes Elevated Anti-Nuclear Antibody ANA Level?

Elevated anti-nuclear antibody ANA level can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose elevated anti-nuclear antibody ANA level, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "elevated anti-nuclear antibody ANA level" as a symptom.  Here are four possibilities:
  • Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus (SLE)

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
fatigue after slight exertion
lupus
minor inflamed cuticles
history of tender muscles
dry eyes
frequent unexplained fevers
severe stiff neck
morning stiffness lasting hours
non-vaginal candidiasis
pitted nails
very dry eyes
frequent morning stiffness
... and more than 30 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of elevated anti-nuclear antibody ANA level:
Cause Probability Status
Rheumatoid Arthritis 97% Confirm
Sjogren's Syndrome 14% Unlikely
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 0% Ruled out
Lupus (SLE) 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having had recent lab tests, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA). Unit: Titre
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ Under 1:40 (normal)
→ 1:40 to 1:100
→ 1:101 to 1:500
→ Over 1:500
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate normal ANA levels, mildly elevated ANA levels, elevated ANA levels or highly elevated ANA levels, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

Any value less than 40 is considered a normal ANA level and called a negative test result.  Normal levels of ANA virtually rule out active SLE.  [Med Clin North Am 81(1): pp.113-28, Jan.  1997]

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