Lupus and lupus like connective tissue diseases are one group of many autoimmune diseases. ANA is diagnostically relevant only to lupus as far as I know although it might be raised in several other autoimmune diseases such as autoimmune hypo thyroid disease. It can also be raised for many other reasons such as infectious diseases and because it just is. The vast majority of people with a slightly raised ANA do not have lupus
Having a positive ANA does not mean you have lupus. Not having a positive ANA reduces the chances of having lupus and makes diagnosis much harder.
Lupus is an autoimmune connective tissue disease. Examples of autoimmune diseases that are NOT connective tissue diseases are Celiac, Crohn's, diabetes 1, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto's thyroid, blood diseases such as APS with a tendency to clot, or ITP with low platelets, biliary cirrhosis/ hepatitis. They each have their own diagnostic criteria ( symptoms and blood work) and their own autoantibodies where relevant.
You would have to research each autoimmune disease to see what is significant in each case !
Lupus is characterised very often by AUTOantibodies often of the IgG class. That means antibodies to self.
We have hundreds of thousands of antibodies because they are what defend our bodies against infections. It's the AUTO antibodies that are relevant in autoimmune disease. Low complement levels, C3 and C4 are also a feature of lupus. One of the most common features of lupus is joint aches and pains. Rheumatologists deal with suspected lupus because they deal with musculoskeletal/ connective tissue diseases of all sorts - congenital, inherited, infectious, acquired and autoimmune. They refer out to specialists depending on how the Lupus is affecting the person.
A good descript
ion of the most common features of lupus has already been given in the ACR Criteria.
Diagnosis comes from careful expert examination of health history, symptoms reported by the patient, signs noticed by the doctor as he examines the patient and by various lab tests- blood work, urine and sometimes imaging.
Maybe I have misremembered and sorry if so, but I think you said you have all the signs or symptoms of lupus except the skin.
I wonder what you have in mind, because most of what the patient might notice as symptoms are common to many other diseases. If you really have all the criteria including other blood work, except skin problems, you would probably get diagnosed even with a negative ANA because an ANA is not essential. Without it there has to be a compelling body of other evidence for lupus as opposed to any other disease.
Some typical lupus like symptoms can be caused by chronic immune deficency states.
If you think you have an illness you should see a GP with a list of your current health problems plus health history and a note of chronic health problems of close blood relatives and request a thorough check up.
Post Edited (BumbleBee1) : 10/1/2008 6:08:14 AM (GMT-6)