What is an RA factor? Well to start, RA factor is a protein. This protein is made by the immune system to attack certain bacteria and viruses. The blood test to measure the RA factor is used to help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases, viruses and infections. What I was told by my rheumatologist and believed, was that my elevated RA factor along with my swollen joints indicated rheumatoid arthritis. Those two factors alone do NOT necessarily mean you have RA. In my case it did not.
An elevated RA factor can indicate increased autoimmune activity in the body that does not necessarily relate to rheumatoid arthritis. It is extremely important that all the symptoms be considered before a diagnosis is made and no one test can indicate disease. High levels of RA factor can be found with patients suffering from viruses like Epstein-Barr and diseases like Hepatitis.
Other tests that should be done at the same time include:
- ANA (Anti Nuclear Antibody)
- Anti-CCP (Anti-cyclic citrullinated Peptide)
- CRP (C-reactive Protein)
- CBC (Complete Blood Count)
- ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or Sed Rate)
I will discuss these tests in future posts.