- Levels of different chemicals, proteins, cells and so on in your body.
- Signs that your body’s immune system is active (inflammation, antibodies or auto-antibodies).
- Signs that some organs in your body aren’t working as well as they should.
What to expect:
Needles and blood tests go hand in hand, so if you have a strong dislike of needles or blood, tell the person taking the sample so they can minimise any stress for you. For a urine test, you will usually have to collect your urine in a small plastic container. You may be asked to skip breakfast, (this is called a ‘fasting’ test), to avoid certain foods or not take your usual medication beforehand.
Understanding your results:
Blood and urine tests are commonly used to assess what’s happening in your body and to see if your organs are working properly. Your doctor will pay particular attention to any auto-antibodies.
Antibodies and auto-antibodies
‘Antibodies’ are little proteins that form a key part of your body’s natural defences against bacteria and viruses. They search for and attach themselves to these invaders, helping your immune system find and get rid of them. ‘Auto-antibodies’ are antibodies that target your body’s own cells, instead of invaders. Often, people with scleroderma have auto-antibodies in their blood. This can be a cause of inflammation.
Did you know?
The most common auto-antibodies in people with scleroderma are:
- Anti-topoisomerase I (anti-Scl-70).
- Anti-centromere (ACA).
- Anti-RNA polymerase III.
These are known as anti-nuclear antibodies (ANAs). They help with diagnosis and may also help predict certain complications.1-5