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Lupus/positive ANA, high prolactin


QUESTION: Hello and thank you for volunteering your time on this site.
I am hoping you can help me figure things out.
For about a year I have been having all sorts of symptoms that do not connect. I have had lots of blood work done and the only "bad" thing that keeps coming up is a positive ANA of homogeneous nature - now the titre is 1:160. My ENA has always been negative: dsDNA, RNP, Sm, Jo, Ro, La etc they are all negative (as they should be in a healthy person). Also, I have an elevated prolactin level. My most debilitating symptom right now is diffuse body pain - my whole body hurts: muscles, joints, ribcage, skin, etc. The episodes wax and wane very randomly.
I was wondering if you can shed any light into this.
I've been reading the criteria for lupus diagnosis and it sure doesn't look like I fit (well, minus the pain and the ANA). Would you be so kind as to try to shed some light onto this for me. Does this sound like lupus to you? Can the elevated prolactin be of any clinical significance?
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

ANSWER: Hi Amanda-
thanks for writing.
I hope I can be of some help.
I agree with you- it doesn't sound like lupus but it does possible sound autoimmune and maybe female-hormone related.

I was not familiar with the prolactin test (I'm not a medical professional; I'm a holistic health coach and a lupus survivor). So I looked up elevated prolactin.

Here is a page on what could cause elevated prolactin:

- a pituitary tumor. Your Dr. might recommend a brain scan or test of your vision. (Pituitary tumors may cause disturbances in eye sight.). Pituitary tumors are almost always non-cancerous, even relatively harmless, and are therefore actually a lot less dangerous than you might think when you hear the word "tumor."
- breast feeding
- hypothyroidism (this is an autoimmune disease and might also explain the positive ANA, which is also an indication of autoimmune activity).
- certain medications. These medications include some drugs for high blood pressure, as well as certain tranquilizers and anti-nausea medications.

Another consideration is fibromyalgia. I have personally found a lot of relief from fibromyalgia with medication (in my case, Cymbalta). You might want to check out this page on fibromyalgia and see if it resonates with you more than lupus.

I hope this gets you a little closer to the answer and help you need.
Best wishes for your regained health and vitality-

Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient: Author, Survivor, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer - Carla's book "How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This?"

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

thanks for taking the time to get back to me.
I had an MRI of my pituitary gland - no sign of a tumor, so that's out of the question.
I have also had a lot of blood work, and my thyroid has been thoroughly checked - no worries there either.
I am on no meds that can cause an elevated prolactin level - but I did in the past have allergic reactions to anti-nausea meds that are known to increase prolactin levels! (can there be a connection?!?)
I am also not pregnant, nor am I breastfeeding.
I will definitely look into fibromyalgia and mention it to my dr. Thanks for suggesting that.
Here is what I found on a lupus website:
Bromocriptine (Parlodel TM )
This molecule has been shown to suppress the secretion of prolactin, and to suppress circulating prolactin. Prolactin, or PRL, is believed to be involved in the onset and progression of lupus. (Prolactin is best known as a hormone that promotes and supports lactation in mammals.) In studies, prolactin was found to be necessary to maintain normal immune function. Therefore, bromocriptine's ability to suppress both prolactin and circulating prolactin might lead to suppression of the immune system and autoimmune disease.

What is your take on this?
Once again I really appreciate your taking the time to get back to me.
Best regards and good health


What is your opinion on this?

Hi Amanda!

Well it sounds possible that the prolactin thing could just be a result of that drug you took, and just a red herring/ false alarm.

I think at this point you might want to find a functional medicine doctor. Someone who will try to get to the bottom of all this, the root cause of your dis-ease. They check vitamin levels, hidden allergies, hormone levels- things regular doctors, esp. rheumatologists don't usually test for. And they try to correct it, rather than just throwing drugs at it. Dr. Mark Hyman is at the forefront of the movement for functional medicine.

If he doesn't have open appointments or is too far away maybe their receptionist can recommend someone who can help you.

All my best-

Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient: Author, Speaker, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer - Carla's book "How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This?"


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Carla Ulbrich


I can answer questions such as "what is lupus?" (How common is it? Is it contagious? What are the symptoms? etc.). Also, I can answer questions such as "what are the available treatments for lupus?" (both standard and alternative). Really, I'll take almost any question on lupus, though. If I can't answer it, I'll be very surprised, but I'll also go find someone who can.


I've been living with lupus (SLE) since 1992. I've had three severe bouts with it, including symptoms such as kidney failure and stroke (if you can call having a stroke a "symptom"). I have completely regained my health, though I have to be mindful to take care of myself, lest I get sick again. I use both mainstream and alternative medicine, and have tried just about everything under the sun to alleviate symptoms. A lot of it worked.

Lupus Foundation of America Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor Toastmasters Folk Alliance

How Can You Not Laugh at a Time Like This? (Tell Me Press, pub.) What is Laughter Lupus Sundial Newsletter

BA in music (UNC-Greensboro)

Awards and Honors
Novelty Song of the Year, Just Plain Folk Awards Winner, South Florida Folk Festival Song Competition Lupus Foundation of America Seal of Approval (for book)

Past/Present Clients
Medicaid Conference Alaska Palliative Care Conference Right at Home Health Care SePHIMA Anritsu Club Med Nursing in Practice

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