Rheumatoid Arthritis Factor Explained
Rheumatoid arthritis factor or RA or RF, is basically an antibody. It can easily attack itself to substances in our body known as immunoglobulin G or IgG to form a molecule called immune complex. This immune complex can actually trigger various diseases and particularly the ones that cause inflammation process in our body. It is very much present in the human blood and a lab test can measure the level of RA factor.
Antibodies are like general protein contained in the body and they also function within our immune system. The rheumatoid factor, which is an immunoglobulin, can actually bind itself to the other antibodies present to trigger a disease. However, rheumatoid factor isnít found normally in most of the populace; only about 1-2% of the healthy people are likely to suffer from this problem. The frequency of rheumatoid factor is likely to accelerate with age. It has been observed that almost 20% of humans above the age of 65 years have increased rheumatoid factor.
Patients having positive rheumatoid factors are at an increased risk of various aggressive diseases like joint inflammation, rheumatoid lung or eye inflammation. These conditions are extremely painful and can be very distressing as well. Also, rheumatoid nodules are quite common amongst people having positive rheumatoid factor. These nodules or lumps can be found in the elbows.
Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis factor isnít really difficult; a blood sample test can detect your rheumatoid factor. This test is commonly done for detecting rheumatoid arthritis. Almost 80% of the adults have rheumatoid factor present in their blood, while it is less prevalent in case of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis factor, however, tends to increase with the duration of the disease in case of rheumatoid arthritis. Almost 20% of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis have negative rheumatoid factor all through the duration of the disease; this condition is known as ďseronegative rheumatoid arthritisĒ.
Rheumatoid arthritis factor, however, must not be treated as a test for screening healthy people as there arenít any therapies for preventing the occurrence of arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. And above all, if a person has been detected with positive rheumatoid factor, it doesnít really mean that the person is likely to have rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis factor might also be cryoglobulin, an antibody that tends to precipitate when a blood sample is cooled. It might either be a type 2, which is monoclonal Igm to polyclonal IgG or a type 3, which is polyclonal IgM to polyclonal IgG cryoglobulin.
A positive rheumatoid arthritis factor can be an indication of several auto immune diseases like Sjogrenís syndrome, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Sceroderma, Polymyositis, Dermatomyositis and Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. Also there are several infections associated with a positive rheumatoid arthritis factor, such as Bacterial endocarditis, Osteomyelitis, Tuberculosis, Syphilis, Hepatitis, Mononucleosis, Diffuse interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, Liver cirrhosis and Sarcoidosis.
But there are certain diseases that cannot be related to an elevated rheumatoid arthritis factor, such as Osteoarthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Gout, Psoriatic arthritis and Reiterís Syndrome or Reactive arthritis.
Higher levels of rheumatoid factor or titers are often associated with chronic rheumatoid arthritis conditions. The factor is also associated with an elevated tendency of developing complications not related to the joints.
Testing the RA factor is a must of a person is suspected to have rheumatoid arthritis. However, if the test results are positive, it doesnít really imply that the person has rheumatoid arthritis and vice versa, which is strange, bit true.
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