Girlfriend got positive ANA test 1:1280 SSA/RO..please help me make sense of this

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New Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/12/2008 3:21 AM (GMT -6)   
My girlfriend has hypothyroidism and went in for a routine blood test which she has every 6 weeks, except she had mentioned to them that she felt tired a lot so they decided to do an ANA test for the first time in her life. A month later (Two days ago) she a call from them about it, they said the ANA was positive and the results may indiciate she has lupus and directed her to make an appointment with a rheumatologist.. now, I panicked after hearing that and started researching everything lupus related on the internet and then panicked more. Here are the important test results:

ANA Postive, titer count >= 1:1280, SSA/Ro type
Rheumatoid factor 4
White blood cell count 1.9 (this is supposed to be low, right?)
Red blood cell count is normal
hemoglobin is normal
hemocrit is normal
platelets are normal
RDW is slightly high (and she was slightly anemic, had a low iron result of a previous blood test, but since eating more spinach and red meat her iron went up and she's feeling better)

The thing is, she's never shown any of the most common symptoms of lupus: no rashes, no hair loss, no real joint or muscle pain except a little hand stiffness when waking up (but that can be attributed to other things, like hypothyroid & the fact that she works hard with her hands at her job), no mouth ulcers, her heart is fine as of her last EKG, no Raynaud's, etc. She is getting a full lupus panel done a week from this Friday but the suspense and anxiety is killing me. I guess that will be the real moment of truth and anything I can think before then is still just a guess..but I can't help but speculate almost 24/7 about this to try and make sense of it and diagnose it as best I can..

The main test result that scares me is the ANA titer count.. the rest can be attributed to other things, but that ANA result is pretty darning evidence in favor of her having some autoimmune disease. Now, after thinking about it for a while, i've come to this conclusion: the blood test was done a month ago and, I figure this sort of thing doesn't happen overnight, right? So that logically means her blood must have been like this for at least a few months at the minimum.. having those ANA results but the fact that she still doesn't show any symptoms of lupus would indicate it might be more likely to be a different auto-immune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, hashimoto's, or sjogrens syndrome, right? If I had to pick one i'd much rather it be one of those three than Lupus, since lupus seems to cause the most harm to people..

She only takes three prescription drugs right now: Synthroid for her thyroid, nexium for acid reflux, and she started taking Zoloft less than a year ago.. as I think about it, she only really started getting tired a lot after starting the Zoloft, is it possible that that drug could've caused drug-induced lupus over time? Her symptoms (irregular blood lab results, tiredness, joint stiffness, but none of the others) are more common to Drug induced auto immune disease than the diseases themselves.. After I came to that conclusion she cut her zoloft's in half and said she already feels less tired cause of that, and we're looking at getting her on something else just in case, so hopefully that helps a little.

Just analyzing the numbers, her symptoms though, i'm thinking she might have a mild form of hashimoto's thyroiditis, or sjogren's, or rheumatoid arthritis, or possibly Drug-indued lupus at worst? One thing that stuck out in my mind though, is she had a bout of Shingles about 3 months ago and they put her on Valtrex briefly to clear it up, she got a rash on her back and on one breast, possibly on her arms too, but it turned out it was just an allergic reaction to Valtrex and went away as soon as she stopped that drug. I'm scared that getting shingles might have somehow induced the onset of an autoimmune disease, possibly lupus itself and the symptoms just haven't really shown yet. Thats really my big worry, what if this is the worst case scenario but its just onsetting, and one day she will wake up with a butterfly rash on her face?

This whole episode has me scared to death. I find myself subconsciously checking her face and arms every night and morning to make sure she hasn't started getting a rash or anything.. this is really impacting my life negatively and making me feel terrible, stressed, and worried all the time. We're both only around 30 years old, I feel like this is too soon in life for her to be facing things like this.. makes me scared that we'll never be able to have kids or anything, and that she may die prematurely in the next 10-20 because of autoimmune related things and i'll have to be alone.. for those of you that have this or are with someone who has it, how do you cope with those feelings? For the first time in my life i've turned to drinking hard liquor specifically for the purpose of removing my bad feelings.. the last few days getting drunk has been the only way to make myself keep a positive outlook on things.. otherwise I literally get so anxious and nearly start hyperventilating and come close to vomiting..

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 8616
   Posted 11/12/2008 8:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to the forum Later !!

Deep breath there, ok?

Think symptoms . . . Lets pretend that she is dx'd with Lupus. The doctor would keep tabs on her blood and urine, and he would treat her symptoms. I hope that makes you feel better already.

The blood test for the hashi is sometimes called Thyroglobulin. There are other names for it too. You are right that can cause all her symptoms too.

Lots of us have had Lupus most of our lives. The folks who post at this forum are probably more ill (in general) than the average lupan. That's what drives most of us to this forum. That being said . . . I am mildly affected and live a fairly normal life. I am careful that I don't overdo for days on end because overspending my energy will/can cause a disease flare and set me back.

The fact that your girlfriend is 30 is a really good thing. A lot of lupans who have really bad complications are ill from puberty. That's not to say that she couldn't end up with organ involvement but lots of us never have organ involvement.

The rheumatologist will likely to a very good job of sorting things out for you. He will send her for a large number of blood tests (maybe 25 or more) and will probably have her urine checked to.

One helpful thing you can do is to go with her to her appointment . . . IF you aren't a basket case. There is an important information sheet that she can prepare before that appointment if you click on the link at the end of my signature: "Lupus Resources", you'll find a post about "how to get the most out of a doctor's appointment" . . . it is near the end of that topic about the fourth post from the bottom. That topic has lots of other good info in it too.

But if she has no symptoms . . . that is huge. Another link you might appreciate is "4 of 11 Criteria" . . . that link will explain how Lupus is dx'd.

I know this is a really hard time. But realize that she is STILL HEALTHY. You can have a high ANA and never know it.

Zoloft (and some other meds) can interfere with sleep sometimes and that could contribute to tiredness or fatigue. See if she can differentiate between feeling tired or having fatigue. Fatigue is like walking around in a concrete suit - everything is a huge effort. Tired is - I need to sleep more.

So . . . remember . . . the lupus patients you hear about are the extreme. There are lot's of us who are doing quite well.

I hope you get some encouraging responses from the other members here.

Keep us posted.


In His Grip

AlwaysRosie           "We can't control the waves, but we can learn how to surf!!"

Psalms 139

Co-Moderator - Lupus Forum

UCTD, Inflammatory Arthritis, Diverticulosis, (recent dx - Sjogrens, Crohn’s 4/08)

Clickable Links:  Lupus Resources    Lupous.Org   Lupus Criteria (4 of 11)   Lupus Chapter Locator

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 185
   Posted 11/12/2008 6:41 PM (GMT -6)   
yeppers.... sounds like lupus to me when i was first diagnosed my ana was 1:640 speckled and my WBC's were 1.7.(no 1.9 is way to low)...(when i had my lupus crisis my ANA was 1:2240 and my dsdna was 1:5400 and something)no other symptoms all my symptoms came later when i really wouldnt take my meds correctly because i couldnt afford them..take a deep breath and be there for her..i have had lupus all my life(wasnt diagnosed til 2003) but never had issues until i was 32 i am 37 now.. the tiredness will always be there until if she starts meds to keep that under control. taking medications are scary but they are keeping me alive..but my lupus is pretty severe... this is treatable and the fact she doesnt have many symptoms right now is good..

Female: 36 yrs/old DX: Lupus (dx:'03) MCTD, Raynaud's, Antithyroid antibodies, Lupus Cebritis, Lupus CNS, Lupus Pneumonitis and Stage II Lupus Nephritis. mitral valve and tricuspid valve regurgitation, 9 tia's and one pontine stroke('06)Seizures('06)steroid induced diabetes and pancreatitis, Photosensitivity since childhood, vasculitis, gangrene left thumb had amputated aug of 07,had mediport put in aug '07, discoid lupus sept 07
Meds: Lisinopril,Hydrochlorithiazide,Keppra, Plaquenil,Prednisone 30 Mg/Day,Miracle mouthwash,Xanax, Darvocet,Lidocaine cream, Xopenex inhaler, Xopenex Nebulizer, prevacid solutabs

Post Edited (AmyTx) : 11/12/2008 4:46:02 PM (GMT-7)

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 142
   Posted 11/13/2008 4:02 AM (GMT -6)   
I'm sorry you are so overwhelmed with all this! Its really frustrating to be in limbo. I hate to say but I almost wish my boyfriend had a little more of your concern! I know we all go through this, but I can tell he gets sick of dealing with me dealing with this (if that makes sense??)
Anyhow a low WBC count is not normal. However, it is normal in autoimmune disease. WBCs fight infection and if you have an autoimmune disease I guess your body just slows down making them. As for the ANA this is not strictly for Lupus. ANA's are positive in many people and RA's and ANA's are also positive in several autoimmune disease. I would lean more toward testing for an autoimmune thyroid disoder like Hashimotos. I am sure they will check her anti-thyroid antibodies since she has a history of hypothyroid.She should probably ask for a thyroid iodine scan if she hasnt had one recently. This will tell if they thyroid is functioning normally. It seems like there are alot of people with lupus/lupus like disease that have hypothyroid. Hypothyroid is also an easy answer. I was diagnosed with it first because my levels were slightly off (now they change all the time. go figure). Its easy for them to give a pill and say let me know how you feel in 3 months. Not sure of any studies, but just from talking to people it seems to be true. SSA/RO is also related to other things besides lupus. I know cardiac problems is one of them too. These labs are so general and as Rosie said they need to look at the criteria too. This is a tricky subject because even seasoned docs dont know alot about autoimmune disease. Make sure she is refered to a rhemie and an endocrinologist if she doesnt see one already.
Good luck to both of you
Dx: UCTD,Raynaud's,iron deficientcy anemia,proteinuria
Rx: Multi-rec folic 500, Celebrex 200 mg, Plaquenil 400mg, Ultram PRN

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/4/2013 3:59 PM (GMT -6)   
I am going through a similar situation. I had a stroke about six weeks ago. I have hypothyroidism, have had several miscarriages, and have had a positive ana screen. My appointment with the Rheumatologist isn't for a couple weeks and i am terrified. I an only 32 years old and have five young children. Any ideas what could be wrong with me? I just need answers the anticipation is killing me!

Elite Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 6/4/2013 5:12 PM (GMT -6)   
Mamabear, Can you post an introduction thread? I'm afraid you'd get lost on this old thread.
I hope your stroke wasn't really bad and you're feeling better.
I wonder if you have the blood clotting disorder that some women with lupus get?
What was your ANA titer?

Have you visited or for more information on lupus?

I know you're anxious to find out the answers, the hardest part is the waiting. Try distract yourself and just hang on, because it's only 2 weeks until the visit.

Keep posting here.
Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, Asthma, Hypothyriodism, Sleep Apnea, OA, Depression, and Allergies

When life throws you lemons....
Pick them up and throw them right back at them! :))

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/21/2014 6:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Lateralus,I too am in the same situation...Breifly..April had open heart surgery. They could not fix most of the problem so sent me home. about a month later I got shingles. Never had them before. Now almost a year later they do an ANA test because of bad hip pain when i walk sit or try to move in any way. I got the same call...your ANA blood work is off the wall!1:1080. I do know that I have Sjorgens Syndrome. But right now that is all that I know. This morning I woke up with what appeared to be cold sores all over both of my lips. Then I took a good look after I spent time thinking about this...I think it is the shingles back again. I do...yes I do blame the shingles for the ANA being positive and so high. I am unable to take any of the viral meds. so this shingles virus is just running rampart in my system. Lupus is one of the things they are looking at. I also have MS. It is not unusual to have more than one two or three auto immune diseases. I just did not think it would be me. Feel free to email me about what is happening with your GF. Maybe we can go through this together and share notes. As it stands now, I have to wait till MAY for my appointment with a Rheumetologist . Keep the faith and be a good support. I have none so I am going this alone.

Elite Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 2/21/2014 7:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Sorry but she hasn't posted in a long time. I don't know if she's still lurking but I've seen no post from her in the time I've been here (3 yrs).
Make sure to post an introduction thread. :)
Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, Asthma, Hypothyriodism, Sleep Apnea, OA, Depression, Allergies, and benign familia tremors

When life throws you lemons....
Pick them up and throw them right back at them! :))

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/21/2014 8:44 PM (GMT -6)   
lol Joy. Just as I clicked send on that message I thought about the date. Did not look as I usually do. I'll chalk that up to my one entitled goof at Healingwell. :) I've been here for quite a while but only had been lurking. Now that things are firing up it's time for me to come back.

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 7725
   Posted 2/21/2014 9:03 PM (GMT -6)   
Welcome, maybe you'll want to start a new thread telling us about your current circumstances.
Lynnwood, Lupus & Sjogren's Moderator, Dx: 2002
"Life is far too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/21/2014 9:13 PM (GMT -6)   
OH GOD!!!!! It is way to deep Joy. It's pretty much as I said in the other post. Just that there are even other things that just stand in my way of treatments. Seizure med.s being the main culprit.

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 2/22/2014 1:45 PM (GMT -6)   
Calm down and breath. I have been there. 30 years ago there was not much info out on lupus and I just knew I would die. I was so frantic. I was like your friend, but I had hair loss. My hair is back and pretty. I have had some challenges, but overall I am find. Was does not kill you will make you stronger and wise. I am both now. Eat well, exercise mildly and learn to relax, each of this will help the immune system dramatically. Find a good supportive doctor and she must learn to listen to her body. Do some research on anti flammatory foods and avoid foods that cause inflammation. go slow, have faith. Thirty years ago I was diagnosed. God is leading me and many friends he will do same for your lovely girlfriend. Relax daily. Yoga has helped me too... Sending healing thoughts and prayer. Try a little aloe vera daily...relax and educate educate relax.

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/22/2014 2:27 PM (GMT -6)   
you touched on some key words. when i had cancer with a year to Dr. said, "listen to your body. when it says rest then REST and don't play games." Oh and laugh and pray and think of myself first. i have been doing that now for 18 yrs. yes...oooops actually 19 years in three weeks. We all can overcome anything once we know what we are dealing with. Right now in her case and in mine...we haven't a clue yet. All I do know for sure is about the Sjorgens Syndrome. A thousand other things but I only can deal with one thing at a time. Take a day at a time and an hour at a time in need be. Whatever works go for it. But do not get stressed out.

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2013
Total Posts : 28
   Posted 2/27/2014 10:19 AM (GMT -6)   

I'm in a situation pretty similar to your girlfriend. I'm 29 and 5 years ago I found out I have hypothyroid (it's thyroid hashimoto, TPO it's very high) then about 3 years ago I found out that I could have Lupus. No symptoms just a lot of blood tests out of range. ( ANA, dsdns, SSA,Ra,...). I was pulled down, I cried, I buried myself. I went to a rheumatologist and he told me: "all your blood tests show off a Lupus disease but in the absence of any symptoms Lupus can't be confirmed. So, there are changes to develop this disease in the future but it's not a must. Go home and live without a sword over your head. If you start having symptoms come back." So, I went home, I changed a little bit my lifestyle ( health food, gym... ), I check this forum at least once a week to stay informed and every day I'm happy because Lupus hasn't still come.
I know it's difficult to find out that you/your girlfriend have/has Lupus at 30 (I thought the same way) but then I registered on this forum and I have seen women that have the disease since they where just little girls. Furthermore, take a look around. There are many more severe disease... depend how you look at ...
All of us want a smoothly life but the life is not in this way ...
I think you don't have to show her too much concern. It won't be good for her.

Take care,
Vitiligo, Autoimmune thyroid, maybe Lupus ( the doctors haven't decided yet).

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” ? Robert Frost

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 27
   Posted 2/28/2014 5:10 PM (GMT -6)   

You seem like a wonderful BF, what everyone needs! You have got some pretty fantastic support here.

Firstly, please ensure you are taking care of you...drinking is not a solution. I know you know this too!

So this is quite a shock. Even so, please calm yourself breath and calm thoughts! k

Seems that you have concluded your whole lives, with very negative worst possible outcome. You must be making yourself crazy. Relax .... sending cyber hugs... Relax!

It really can be ok and have Lupus. You can still have all your plans and dreams. Reclaim your lives. Your attitude and how you choose to react is so very powerful.

Only think about what is, not this could or this might, because you have now become very upset over things that don't even exist.

You have found this Healing Well. I am new here too. I have found this to be a great resource and exceptionally supportive.

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