Just wanted to add my welcome to the mix. You have been given excellent advice and I cannot add anything further to what you've already received. However, you asked about the 1:160 in your ANA. So, I will give you a brief explanation about what that means.
There is no single diagnostic test for lupus. There is a screening test called the ANA (anti-nuclear antibody) test which is often checked when a doctor suspects lupus. If the ANA test comes back negative it is considered a normal result, and it is very good evidence against lupus as an explanation for the symptoms. If the ANA test result comes back above the normal range, the test is said to be positive. A positive ANA test by itself is not proof of lupus.There are many illnesses and conditions associated with a positive ANA, including rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, scleroderma, and lupus, as well as infectious diseases such as mononucleosis, subacute bacterial endocarditis, and autoimmune thyroid and liver disease.A positive ANA is only an indicator which points in several possible directions, and indicates that further investigation and analysis may be needed.
The doctor will view your ANA and other lab results, taking into consideration your history and a physical exam to determine if there is sufficient evidence to diagnose Lupus or any specific illness. None of the connective tissue (joints, tendons, cartilage, collagen, muscles and skin) diseases have a specific diagnostic tests. Diagnosing these illnesses is based on meeting certain criteria for the disease which are based on the symptoms you have had, your physical examination, and your blood tests. In systemic lupus, eleven criteria were developed for research purposes but are frequently used to diagnose lupus (those criteria are listed in "Newly Diagnosed".
More than 95% of people with systemic lupus have a positive ANA. Only a small percentage have a negative ANA, and many of those have other antibodies (such as anti-phospholipid antibodies, anti-Ro, anti-SSA) or their ANA converted from positive to negative from steroids, cytotoxic medications, or uremia (kidney failure).
Your number 1:160 indicates your titer in the ANA test. A titre (ti-ter) is the number of times a solution (such as your blood) can be diluted before a substance (an ANA antibody) can no longer be detected. Thus, an ANA titre of 1:80 means that the blood can be diluted to one in eighty parts and the lab technician can still detect the ANA antibody. The dilutions are usually two-fold, so that the next dilution would be 1:160, and the one after 1:320. Because normal ranges for ANA titres vary from lab to lab, there is no universal normal range. There is no limit to how high the ANA can go. However, 1:160 is almost always considered high.
If yourserum (blood) contains antinuclear antibodies (ANA), they bind to the cells (specifically the nuclei of the cells) on the slide used by lab techs. A second antibody, commercially tagged with a fluorescent dye, is added to the mix of your serum and commercially prepared cells on the slide. The second (fluorescent) antibody attaches to the serum antibodies and cells which have bound together. When viewed under an ultraviolet microscope, antinuclear antibodies appear as fluorescent cells.
If fluorescent cells are observed, the ANA (antinuclear antibody) test is considered positive. If fluorescent cells are not observed, the ANA (antinuclear antibody) test is considered negative.
A titer is determined by repeating the positive test with serial dilutions until the test yields a negative result. The last dilution which yields a positive result (flourescence) is the titer which gets reported, in your case, this was 1:160.
I hope that I've answered your question. Welcome to our family and please do not hesitate to ask any questions that you may have. Someone here will always do all that they can to help you.
Peace and Blessings
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