Re: Just finished breastfeeding and have elevated ANA
I had to reply to this because I am the mother of 3 children under 5, I'm breastfeeding, and I just had a positive ANA test!
I agree that it is very misleading (and very likely incorrect) for the doctor to call a positive ANA "positive for lupus". As the previous poster said, there are many reasons why one might get a positive result and lupus is only one of them. A small percentage of the healthy population will get a positive result and never go on to develop an autoimmune disease, for instance. Also, there are many autoimmune diseases beyond lupus. And finally, some things like chronic illness or infection can cause the result as well. I'm not sure about a sinus infection causing a positive ANA, but I imagine it could happen - this should certainly be brought up with your wife's doctor.
Your wife should see a rheumatologist to pursue further testing. He/she can test for a variety of specific antibodies in the blood and that will give you a direction to go in. She might also want her kidney function evaluated (blood and urine tests) because this can go hand in hand with some autoimmune diseases like lupus.
As for the hormonal connection, I don't think hormones affect ANA results. It is very common for women to have a flare up of an autoimmune disease after the birth of a baby though. The connection between hormones and lupus (for example, but other autoimmune diseases too) isn't understood but it's clear that there is some relationship since it primarily affects women in their childbearing years and often becomes less severe after menopause.
In my personal situation, I had a 1:640 ANA with speckled pattern, but haven't yet tested positive for any of the antibodies. I'm waiting on the anti-dsDNA test which I've been told is most specific to lupus. I'm also waiting on kidney function tests, tests to determine if I have any muscle inflammation/damage, and some hematology testing about blood clotting. There is a condition called APS which is often related to lupus which causes abnormal clotting that my doctor suspects I might have. I don't have a diagnosis, but the doctor feels that I do have some sort of connective tissue disease.
I am still breastfeeding my youngest child (she is 7 months) and my symptoms really developed while I was pregnant with her, then become much worse when she was about 3 months old.
I hope your wife gets some answers soon.