Commonly used lupus blood tests
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A complete blood count looks at whole, unseparated blood. The goal of this test is to look at the overall health of the various cells that make up blood, including platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells. Of particular importance to lupus are the white blood cells, which are a part of the immune response. If white blood cell levels are high, that can mean that there are abnormally high levels of inflammation in the body.
While lupus is not always the cause, a complete blood count test can find signs of immune system distress, potential blood clotting issues, and anemia. These factors can have major impacts on the health of Lupus Warriors.
Blood samples may be tested to see if they clot properly. If they aren’t, this can indicate that there is a problem with the platelets. This can be a sign of lupus, and can also be life-threatening if not investigated and treated.
Antinuclear Antibody Test (ANA)
The ANA test (AntiNuclear Antibody) looks for specific antibodies that are the usual culprits in autoimmune disease. Many of these antibodies attack the nucleus of cells, where the DNA is located.
Although a positive reading for ANA doesn’t mean that a person has lupus, ~97% of people with SLE have positive ANA tests. Still, a positive ANA is part of the clinician diagnosis checklist.
Other Autoantibody Tests
But, ANAs are not the only antibodies in the blood. Other antibodies can help clinicians understand problems because they are associated with particular conditions. For example:
- Anti dsDNA is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and can be used to gauge severity in people with lupus nephritis
- Anti-ro/SSA and Anti-La/SSB antibodies are associated with SLE and Sjogren’s syndrome
- Anti-histone antibodies are associated with both drug-induced lupus and SLE
Because these antibodies are associated with other conditions, they are usually used to confirm a diagnosis, not make one.
15 thoughts on “Blood Tests for Diagnosing and Measuring Lupus”
I have been diagnosed with lupus and I want to find out how far along it is or how bad it is but I do not have much money to do a lot of testing but I am interested I can handle the pain
Do I ask my rheumatologist or hematologist for the new Progentec blood test? I have not had a complete blood work with C3/C4 in almost 2 yrs. CBC yes, and IGG cuz I am currently get infusions for low IGG 3 and 4.
I had all the tests my md wanted me to have. Only the ANA was off. Why don’t they look at the whole patient, their symptoms, and actually take time to look, and talk about symptomolgy with the patient. I was told it would be 8 months to see a Rheumatologist. Also, I was told to move to a dryer climate like Arizona. What is wrong with our MD’s? Any suggestions will be great!!
I have waited months to see specialists as well and after only 10 minutes of trying to descibe my symptom history they cut me off and want to run bloodwork that, until recently, all came back normal. This, they concluded nothing was wrong in spite of my 50 different symptoms involve every system of my body. It is totally ridiculous! After 20+ years of being sick and finding no answers, my bloodwork is FINALLY displaying abnormalities and the doctors are FINALLY paying attention and trying to help me. But I had to get to the point were I’m half-dead for this to happen.
I was in the hospital with pericarditis and all the markers showed up in my bloodwork, but had to wait 6 months for an appointment with rheumatologist. The bloodwork done at rheumatologist only showed positive ANA, high ACE and moderate positive RNA Polymerase. Waiting to see what rheumatologist says about test results. Appointment is not until October.
A heartfelt, I’m sorry. My daughters lupus situation parallels many of these experiences. I hope you have loving caregivers and a support system outside the medical field.
I’m sorry for the tough time your going through. I was first misdiagnosed with MS. Ms and lupus can look alike especially if lupus is attacking your central immune system. My point is there is a criteria of 11 that a patient has to demonstrate before receiving a diagnosis of lupus. I also found out through credible research that primary doctors are not always well informed of lupus. I would keep a log of your symptoms. My rheumatologist has me take pictures of rashes or swollen joints. Sometimes we are at our sickest when we don’t have a app and when we do we recover. It’s a frustrating disease. I wish you the best of luck at your future app.
Actually you only need 4 of the 12
I have had Lupus for 33 yrs and I am very sick and weak. Can these help?
These tests are primarily used to provide a more accurate picture into the current level of disease activity with lupus. By doing so, they will help your clinicians better measure the success of treatments and develop better plans.
Thank you for writing in and being part of the LupusCorner community — If there are other topics that would be helpful for us to cover, please let me know
Constant battle to fight! Last lupus flare for me was attacking the heart. Finally got fluid under control yet now fighting kidney and liver from the meds given for heart! I just continue to go daily with faith in our great God!
I have sle lupus and alot of other autoimmune dieseaes
My mother had lupus, diagnosed finally after years of suffering. My brother has lupus and it’s really taking a toll on his body. I have some of the same symptoms but was told by 2 doctors that there is no definitive answers at this point. How likely is it that I could have lupus also?
I have a permanent blood clot. When I found out I had this I tested positive for the Lupus Anticoagulant. I know this does not mean Lupus. Twelve weeks later I tested Negative. I felt better at the time. I have Discoid lesions on my scalp and had Anemia. My arms are numbing now. I feel awful, I feel better. My white cells have spiked and I was hospitalized.
Tongue sores and other markers. My sister passed from Scleroderma at 44. Mom had Rheumatoid. Daughter has Graves. I had ITP and a splenectomy in my 20s. I’m 68 now. Four months to see a Rheumatologist. I spend my life quite confused.
I started having issues when I was in my early teens. These were listed as growing pains or my wanting attention. During my late teens, I spent months in the hospital, yet no type of diagnose was made (spend more that 2 days in a hospital now days and you will be labeled with all types of things). As the years moved, I spent more and more time in doctors’ offices & hospitals. More things were noted, but testing was limited. From what I gatherer, if the ANA is negative, additional test are not performed. A couple of years back, I went to a new Rhem. Due do my past (and prompt from my PCP), the whole range of testing was performed.
OMG, I am well into my 60’s and they have discovered I have positive ENA readings. I say discovered because the docs act like i’ve not suggested this for some 50 years.
They want be to take a cabinet full of medications, and are surprise that i refused.
Over the years, I have come up with ways to deal with my pains, rashes, tiredness, and other issues.
To the doctor who said i was faking, in a effort to collect disability – “I’m of age now!”