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Blood Tests For Autoimmune Diseases
11 July 2017
Autoimmune diseases occur when the body doesn’t differentiate between one’s own body cells and foreign cells. This then causes the body’s immune system to attack the body’s cells as if it were trying to get rid of body foreign cells, this is known as autoimmunity.
There are many different types of autoimmune conditions, which can be differentiated by the areas of which they attack:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – the body targets the joints.
- Lupus – the body targets the skin and kidneys.
- Dermatomyositis – the body targets the skin and muscles.
- Graves Disease – the body targets and attacks the thyroid.
- Psoriasis – the body targets the skin.
- Coeliac Disease – the body targets and attacks the intestines.
Autoimmune diseases are not the easiest conditions to diagnose and a range of tests including physical exams, laboratory testing, radiography and biopsies have to be undertaken in order to fully diagnose the condition and type.
There are a few reasons as to why diagnosing an autoimmune condition is tricky:
- Patients initially start off with common symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, fever and sometimes weight fluctuations which are not specific to just an autoimmune condition.
- The symptoms also are not constant and can come and go in various severities.
- More often than not patients with autoimmunity tend to have more than one autoimmune condition.
Blood tests can be carried out to help identify if the condition is of an autoimmune variety, the following are the most common tests medical professionals carry out on a potential autoimmunity patient:
The auto-antibodies are the antibodies that attack the healthy cells and tissues in an individual with autoimmunity. There are a variety of types of auto-antibody tests; the most common one used is the Antinuclear Antibody Test (ANA Test). This test indicates whether there is a chance of the individual suffering from an autoimmune condition however it cannot diagnose the specific autoimmune condition. If the test is positive further tests will need to be run to diagnose the exact cause of the symptoms.
Inflammation and organ function tests
Some autoimmune conditions can cause organs to function abnormally, these are most likely the kidneys and liver. Therefore tests are carried out on the organs to see if they are functioning normally and are healthy to rule out any possible autoimmune conditions. This test is not as common as the Auto-antibody tests as it assumes damage has already been done to the organs to be able to identify if the patient has an autoimmune condition.
Although these blood tests can help further the diagnosis of autoimmune conditions, they are only the initial methods used in the diagnosis. Full diagnosis of an autoimmune condition can take months or even years as there are many different variations of autoimmune conditions, this is not helped by the symptoms not being unique to autoimmunity. To get the most accurate and quickest diagnosis, alongside blood tests, background research should be carried out including the patient’s family history and how long the patient has suffered from certain symptoms and to what severity. This can help cut the diagnosis time down and rule out any autoimmune conditions from the start meaning less distress for the patient overall.
Lorne Laboratories supplies test kits that can be used as an aid for the diagnosis of some autoimmune disease such as Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. In addition, Lorne supplies AHG Elite reagent which is used as a tool to help diagnose Autoimmune Haemolytic Anemia (AIHA).
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