Re: Just finished breastfeeding and have elevated ANA
Hi & welcome. What your wife's doctor said seems somewhat misleading to me. First, there's no one blood test for lupus. Instead, the diagnosis is made when patients fulfill 4 or more of 11 ACR criteria; and only SOME of these are blood results, but many aren't. Look for these ACR criteria in a "sticky post" (permanent info post) at the top of the thread list. They may be met over time, meaning not all at once.
Second, ANA is positive in conditions other than lupus. And as you pointed out, sometimes due to a passing virus. (And isn't shingles viral? I don't know if it could elevate ANA, though, sorry...) Also, family tendency & aging (but I doubt that last is germane). Also, as your dr. suggested, I understand the test is difficult to perform & thus subject to false positives.
I'm just a (dumb) patient, but if she's worried, her better bet would be to have a *rheumatologist* perform the additional tests. They know the best labs & are better at nuance in this tricky area of medicine. Also, a rheumatologist knows how to review lifetime medical history, for early signs that are seen in people who later develop lupus. (There's a sticky post on that too, called "Alternative Criteria".) Finally, rheumatologists know lupus in all its wildly varying presentations---plus they know its "close cousins".
I hope this concern passes, but if it doesn't, know that many people who have lupus do pretty well in this day & age. Let us know how things are going, OK? Sending best wishes to you both, sincerely, Vee
Last edited by VeeJ; 03-03-2011 at 10:54 AM.