View Full Version : blood result ANA positive, 1:1280 SSA/Ro.. help?

11-12-2008, 02:05 AM
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.. that isn't happening until next friday and until she gets results from that testing there is no official diagnosis..but nonetheless, 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 pretty 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 smoking and 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..

11-12-2008, 06:04 AM
Hello Lateralus,

Welcome. I'm Rob, and I was diagnosed with Lupus five years ago. It sounds like the stress of this situation is really doing a number on you. I don't want to do anything to add to that. I also don't want to compound the confusion you both must feel by trying to analyze the test results myself. It would be pure speculation on my part, and would not help you.

What I will talk about, is my experience with Lupus. First and foremost, yes, Lupus is a serious, incurable autoimmune disorder. Yes, it can be fatal, but that is the exception, not the norm. Lupus is by no means a death sentence. I have been coping with the disease since 2004, although I believe I had the disease long before that. We have members here who have lived with Lupus for 10, 20 even 30 years or more. It is no picnic, and it can indeed be a terribly debilitating disease. It is also a disease that in many cases can be managed effectively with the proper medications and lifestyle changes.

The symptoms can vary so much that no two people will have the exact same ones. It can be difficult to diagnose because of this. You are doing the right thing by learning all you can about the possible causes of your girlfriends symptoms. Your ability to be supportive and understanding of her situation is also a very good thing. One of the worst things in life, is sitting around waiting for test results when a person thinks they, or someone they love may have a serious disease. A person can have many a sleepless night, and the worry can consume ever moment of the day.

Something that will not help either of you, is trying to cope by drinking the fear away. It sounds like you know that you shouldn't be doing this. I won't judge you, and I do understand because I have turned to drinking more than a few times in my life to cope with stressful, life changing events. Just be careful, as these sort of things can sneak up and bite you.

My suggestion for you, is to do what you are doing by coming here. First of all, you are learning about the disease your girlfriend might have. But more importantly, you are talking to others about this situation. The simple act of venting, and unloading about all of your fears can make coping alot easier. You'll find plenty of understanding people here, as well as solid, reliable information. Please make yourself at home, and feel free to talk about whatever you need to. Once again, welcome to the group.


11-12-2008, 06:48 AM
Hi Lateralus,
Welcome to the site. My name is Kathy and I have SLE Lupus and several other Auto-immune disorders. I have had Lupus since the age of about 5 years old and I will be 50 in December.

Try to calm down and wait until she sees the Rheumatologist. She may very well not have Lupus, because you have to meet 4 of the 11 criteria listed by the Lupus Foundation to get diagnosed as having Lupus. If she does have it she may just have the very mild form of the illness, because she is not exhibiting a lot of the criteria. I am wondering if it is more like Sjogrens that she has due to the SSA/Ro antibody. Lupus is not an automatic death sentence anymore. About 40 years ago it was thought to be a death sentence, but thank heavens not anymore. They have a lot of good medications for Lupus. I have had Lupus for some 44 years and I am still here and doing ok.

I am glad that you are posting to get information and learning all that you can.

I think that the shingles could have caused the low white count, because it is a virus related to the chickenpox. I know with me Sjogrens Syndrome presented itself when I was 35 right after I got the full blown chickenpox and this is what makes me wonder if she has Sjogrens and not Lupus. You will have to wait though until you see the Rheumoatologist and he/she can sort it all out. Try to relax and not get so stressed out ok. I know that it is a hard thing to do, but man stress will only make you sick big time. Hang in there my friend and try to do something positive to try to relieve the stress, say like when you are feeling overly stressed take a walk as that helps believe it or not to take you away from the situation at the moment. I know that you are scared and that is very understandable. When you start feeling stressed just jump on here and post to us as we are here for you and your girlfriend. I hope that you get answers and good answers when she sees the Rheumatologist. Please let us know how it goes with the Rheumatalogist ok. God Bless.


11-12-2008, 07:08 AM
Morning Lateralus...Hey,

Welcome to WHL...

When the alcohol and smoking wears off, the feelings are still there. They will never go away unless you deal with them in a different fashion. Don't fret over what has yet or may never come to be. It is time not well spent, and no doubt is adding stress to the relationship. I wonder how she feels?

I think the doctors office who called with the ANA results, reacted prematurely to say it may indicate Lupus.

It seems you are only extrapolating from your reads the worst case scenario involving the disease when the word Lupus was said.

Do you know 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.

Certain medications can cause a positive ANA, and many healthy people with no associated illness or condition have a positive ANA. In fact, about 5% of the general population will have a positive ANA. Thus, at least 95% of the people who have a positive ANA do not have lupus! A positive ANA test can sometimes run in families, even if family members have no evidence of lupus.

The ANA is only a test and, like a high cholesterol value, a positive ANA doesn't necessarily equate having a disease. A positive ANA is only an indicator which points in several possible directions, and indicates that further investigation and analysis may be needed.

Put away the bottle, make an appointment with your family doctor and tell him of your physical reaction of your anxieties so it can be treated responsibly.

As Rob mentioned, speaking of your fears, sharing can be very relieving in itself...

Face things as they happen and don't live out the story before it is even told.

Prayers I will say for your girlfriend...be well.