Positive ANA Turned Negative

Question

For several years I have had recurrent unexplainable illnesses, rashes and arthritis-like symptoms. Finally during my last episode, I requested an ANA test, which returned positive. My doctor and I both felt like we were finally getting to the bottom of things and he referred me to a rheumatologist, but by the time I could get in to see him, I was well again (6 weeks). The rheumatologist was not interested in hearing about any past illnesses, only what he could observe, which at the time was nothing. He re-did the ANA test, which returned negative this time and sent me away feeling like I had wasted both his and my time. After years of dead ends I was feeling hopeful that I was on the right track, but now it appears that I am back at square one. I have been told that healthy people can have positive ANA tests, but I am not healthy. Can a person’s ANA fluctuate between positive and negative when they are sick/not sick?

Answer

ANA tests can vary in the titer and often times ;ow titer ANA blood tests often turn negative. How to interpret fluctuating ANA tests is often difficult and depends a great deal on your symptoms.

Alan Matsumoto, M.D.

About Alan Matsumoto, M.D.

Part-time Faculty, Division of Rheumatology
Johns Hopkins University