Let's be honest: inflammation has a terrible rep. Much of it is justifiable. Long-term inflammation, after all, is linked to chronic illnesses and death. If you just depended on headlines for health information, you may conclude that stamping out inflammation would abolish cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and perhaps ageing itself. Unfortunately, this isn't the case.
Nonetheless, our understanding of how chronic inflammation might harm one's health has vastly improved in recent years. Three common questions arise as a result of this understanding: Is it possible that I have inflammation without realizing it? How can I tell if I have it? Is it possible to test for inflammation? Yes, there are some.
Testing for Inflammation
In medical care, a number of well-established assays for detecting inflammation are widely employed. However, it's crucial to remember that these tests can't tell the difference between acute inflammation, which can occur as a result of a cold, pneumonia, or an injury, and chronic inflammation, which can occur as a result of diabetes, obesity, or an autoimmune illness, among other things. It's crucial to know the difference between acute and chronic inflammation.
The following are four of the most common inflammatory tests:
Sedimentation rate of erythrocytes (sed rate or ESR). The speed at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a vertical tube of blood is measured in this test. Higher levels of proteins in the blood causes red blood cells to clump together, causing them to fall faster when inflammation is present. In general, a normal result is 20 mm/hr or less, while a number more than 100 is considered to be out of the normal range.
C-reactive protein is a type of anti-inflammatory protein (CRP). When there is inflammation, this protein produced by the liver tends to rise. A normal result is less than 3 milligrams per litre. There is a common way to tell if someone is at risk for cardiovascular disease when their CRP level is above 3 mg/L. This is because bodywide inflammation can cause CRP levels to rise to 100 mg/L or more.
Ferritin. This is a blood protein that indicates how much iron the body has accumulated. It's usually ordered to see if an anemic person is iron deficient, in which case ferritin levels will be below. Ferritin levels may also be elevated if the body has too much iron. However, when there is inflammation, ferritin levels rise as well. It can be hard to figure out what normal levels are, but they can be between 20 and 200 mcg/L for women and 20 to 200 mcg/L for men.
Fibrinogen. While this protein is most typically used to assess the health of the blood clotting system, when inflammation is present, its levels tend to rise. The typical level of fibrinogen is 200 to 400 mg/dL.
Inflammation tests: how useful are they?
In certain instances, tests to assess inflammation can be highly helpful.
Identifying and diagnosing an inflammatory illness A rare condition known as giant cell arteritis, in which the ESR is nearly always elevated, is an example of this. If a person has symptoms like a new, severe headache or jaw pain, an elevated ESR can raise the suspicion that the disease is present, whereas a normal ESR can argue against this diagnosis.
An inflammatory condition is being monitored. When a person has rheumatoid arthritis, ESR or CRP (or both tests) can be used to establish how aggressive the illness is and how effective treatment is working.
None of these tests is perfect. When inflammation is present, false-negative outcomes can also occur. When abnormal test findings suggest inflammation when none exists, false-positive results can arise.
Should you be tested for inflammation on a regular basis?
Inflammation tests are still not done on all adults, and experts guidelines do not recommend them.
CRP testing to assess cardiac risk is recommended to help determine whether preventive treatment is appropriate for some people (such as those with an intermediate risk of heart attack, i.e., neither high nor low). If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease, CRP testing doesn't seem to be very useful in determining how likely you are to get heart disease.
Only one organization that I am aware of supports routine inflammatory testing for everyone without a specific reason: companies that sell inflammation tests directly to consumers.
Why not test for inflammation, which may be silent?
Chronic inflammation can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Having routine healthcare that screens for common causes of silent inflammation, such as diabetes, is far more useful than looking for evidence of inflammation through a blood test without any understanding of why it might be there.
Hepatitis C and other chronic infections.
The majority of these illnesses do not require inflammatory testing as part of a standard medical examination. If you do have one of these conditions, your medical team can advise you on the best treatment options.
Frequently asked questions about Inflammation
What are the five signs of inflammation?
Inflammation is how your body responds to infection. Five cardinal signs characterize this response: pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function.
What are the 3 stages of inflammation?
The Three Stages of Inflammation
Phase 1: Inflammatory Response. Healing of acute injuries begins with the acute vascular inflammatory response.
Phase 2: Repair and Regeneration.
Phase 3: Remodelling and Maturation.
Does inflammation in the body show up in blood tests?
Blood tests are known as 'inflammatory markers' can detect inflammation in the body, caused by many diseases including infections, auto-immune conditions and cancers. The tests don't identify what's causing the inflammation: it might be as simple as a viral infection, or as serious as cancer.
Why do doctors test for inflammation?
Why it's done
Check for inflammation due to an infection. Help diagnose a chronic inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Determine your risk of heart disease. Evaluate your risk of a second heart attack.
What is the best way to detect inflammation?
The best way to detect inflammation is by measuring high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and white blood cell count with a blood test.
Inflammation testing has a purpose in the medical evaluation and monitoring of specific diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. However, it is not obvious if it is useful as a routine test for everyone. Adopting healthy habits and getting regular medical care that can find and treat disorders that cause inflammation is the best way to go.
Get a free consultation from the Melody Jacob Health Team. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Thanks for reading.