The immune system protein which keeps attacking the healthy cells of a human body is called the rheumatoid factor. The presence of very high levels of rheumatoid factor in the blood can often be an indication of an autoimmune condition which is often known as rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid Factor (RF) can be diagnosed by conducting blood tests; high levels of RF can indicate Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), but it can only be one of the aspects of the diagnosis.
People having many other health conditions and people having no health issues are also susceptible to RF. Also in some exceptional cases, people having an autoimmune condition have normal levels of rheumatoid factor.
What is Rheumatoid Factor?
Rheumatoid Factor is a type of protein which is often called as autoantibody made by the immune system. The role of the rheumatoid factor in the body is still not understood by doctors. RF usually attacks the healthy cells of a person having an autoimmune condition. The immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells thinking that they are foreign bodies which results in creating higher rheumatoid factor levels to attack the healthy cells.
Doctors usually do RF tests on susceptible patients for diagnosing such autoimmune conditions in them. High levels of rheumatoid factor in the body can indicate that there is some kind of autoimmune activity that is happening in the body.
Normal Ranges of Rheumatoid Factor
The normal range of rheumatoid factor is between zero to twenty units per milliliter of blood. Having levels of rheumatoid factor above this range is not the only factor for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis.
What do the Results Indicate?
Higher levels of rheumatoid factor or positive results for the tests indicate the presence of a lot of rheumatoid factor in the blood. Autoimmune disruption and inflammation can often result in the concentration of rheumatoid factor.
Almost eighty percent of the people having RA have very significant concentrations of rheumatoid factor in their blood. Around thirty percentages of people might have faced a rise in the levels of a rheumatoid factor during the early stages of arthritis.
These antibodies can also occur in the body as a part of aging. Several studies state that about five percent of healthy people who are in the age group of 50 to 60 years may have high levels of RF; it is stated that around ten to twenty-five percent of people who are aged above 70 also have high levels of rheumatoid factor. Stiffness, swelling, inflammation, and pain in the joints can be some of the signs of RA according to rheumatology.