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The Ultimate Guide to the Different Inflammation Blood Tests

ARTICLE BY

The GlycanAge Team

Key Points

  • Inflammation is a crucial aspect of the body's defence mechanism. Essentially, it entails the immune system's identification and eradication of harmful stimuli, thus commencing the process of healing.

  • Doctors utilise blood tests known as inflammatory markers to identify inflammation in the body caused by various types of ailments.

  • Blood tests such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP) and the ferritin test are frequently employed to identify elevated protein levels in the blood, thereby serving as indicators of inflammation.

  • In general, it is more effective for individuals to cultivate healthy habits and as well as ensure they have regular access to medical care that can recognise and manage the ailments contributing to inflammation as opposed to treating the issue when it arises. After all, prevention is always far better than cure!

 

Inflammation has gained a notorious reputation – and rightfully so. Its long-term effects can lead to chronic diseases and fatalities. Nonetheless, the general rule of thumb is to understand that acute inflammation is a natural and a good thing. However, chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is something to be kept under control and delayed for as long as possible.

Our comprehension of how inflammation can negatively affect a person's health has increased significantly in recent decades, leading to three frequently asked questions: Could inflammation exist without my knowledge? How can I determine if I have it? Are there tests to detect inflammation?

The answer to the last question is yes; there are several established tests that medical practitioners commonly employ to detect inflammation. Nonetheless, it is important to note that these tests cannot differentiate between acute inflammation, which may arise from pneumonia, a cold or an injury, and chronic inflammation, which is more harmful and may be accompanied by other health conditions such as obesity, diabetes or autoimmune diseases. Therefore, understanding the disparity between acute and chronic inflammation is crucial.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation can be viewed as the body's innate defence mechanism against harm. It is a beneficial process as long as it is regulated, but it can become detrimental if it persists for an extended period.

Generally speaking, there are two distinct forms of inflammation: acute and chronic.

Acute Inflammation

Most individuals are likely to be more acquainted with acute inflammation, which arises from incidents such as a knee injury or a cut on the finger. Essentially, acute inflammation is temporary inflammation typically caused by infection, trauma or toxic substances. It presents as pain, swelling, heat, redness and reduced motor function. Besides that, acute inflammation usually begins swiftly and stays around only for a few days or weeks. In such cases, the immune system sends a group of white blood cells to surround and defend the affected region, resulting in swelling and visible redness. Therefore, in such circumstances, inflammation is necessary; otherwise, wounds may become infected, and minor illnesses could prove lethal.

Chronic Inflammation

When acute inflammation is not properly addressed, it may develop into chronic inflammation, which is long-lasting and low-level, staying around for several months or even years. Fundamentally, this occurs when the body continues to dispatch inflammatory cells even in the absence of an external threat. For instance, in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory cells and substances assault joint tissues, causing recurring inflammation that can lead to substantial joint damage, long-term pain and deformities.

the primary causes of chronic inflammation include autoimmune diseases like lupus, whereby healthy tissues are targeted by the body, direct exposure to environmental pollutants such as industrial chemicals, and unattended acute inflammation arising from infections or injuries. In addition, certain lifestyle practices may also play a role in contributing to chronic inflammation

The problem with chronic inflammation is that  the symptoms may be less noticeable than those of acute inflammation, but in comparison to those symptoms of acute inflammation, are rather persistent.

What Types of Blood Tests Can Be Used to Detect Inflammation?

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) Test

The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), also known as the sed rate, is a blood test that detects inflammation Although it cannot be used alone to diagnose a medical condition, it can assist doctors in monitoring the development of an inflammatory disorder.

As the blood is drawn into a blood tube, red blood cells gradually settle to the bottom. Inflammatory conditions cause the cells to clump together, making them denser and settle faster than individual cells. Given that the ESR test measures how far red blood cells fall in the tube within an hour, expressed in millimetres per hour (mm/hr), a higher value indicates a more significant immune system response to inflammation. Although lab ranges may differ, a typical result considered normal is 20 mm/hr or lower, while a reading of over 100 mm/hr is considered to be significantly elevated.

High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP) Test

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein whose  concentration elevates when infection or inflammation is present in the body. Once in the bloodstream, CRP attaches to damaged tissue or microbes and marks them so that they can be removed by the immune system.

The highly-sensitive CRP (hs-CRP) test is designed to measure CRP levels below 10 mg/L, which is not possible with a regular CRP test. This makes it a useful tool for detecting systemic, low-grade inflammation. To briefly elaborate, the normal value for hs-CRP is below 3 mg/L. However, if the body is experiencing widespread inflammation, the CRP levels may rise to 100 mg/L or even higher. In general, a value exceeding 3 mg/L is used to indicate a heightened risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Ferritin Test

Ferritin is a protein that stores iron and helps ensure the body has enough iron to utilise. a ferritin test is usually requested to determine if an anaemic individual  has low levels of iron. On the other hand, if there is too much iron in the body, ferritin gets elevated.

Nevertheless, ferritin levels can also increase due to inflammation as the body increases its levels to prevent pathogens like viruses and bacteria from using the ironMeanwhile, ferritin can also leak out into the bloodstream when cells are injured, causing levels to increase. On that note, ferritin levels are directly linked to CRP as both are often raised in many chronic inflammatory diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), obesity and various forms of cancers. Normal levels differ depending on the lab and have a tendency to be higher amongst men, with the normal range falling between 20 and 200 mcg/L.

Fibrinogen Test

Fibrinogen is a blood protein that becomes activated by the enzyme thrombin to assist in blood clot formation. It is also crucial for the creation of new blood vessels and the healing of damaged tissue. Similar to CRP, fibrinogen is a protein that surges in response to inflammation (proteins that do so are also known as acute-phase reactants). Other than that, fibrinogen and its by-products have the capability to activate various immune cells.

Your doctor may recommend a fibrinogen test to diagnose or rule out bleeding or blood clotting disorders. In certain cases, fibrinogen testing may also be conducted to gather more information about your risk of cardiovascular  inflammation. Even though an elevated level is not utilised to assess chronic inflammation, it may serve as an indicator. The standard range for fibrinogen is typically between 200 to 400 mg/dL, although this may differ between laboratories.

Interleukin-6 Test

Cytokines are minute proteins that facilitate communication between immune cells. They are crucial in coordinating an immune response to injury and infection. One of the cytokines, Interleukin-6 (IL-6), has both anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory properties. It is necessary for the immune system to function correctly, and inadequacies can raise the body's vulnerability to infections. IL-6 prompts bone breakdown and alleviates inflammation induced by exercise. Besides that, IL-6 plays a significant role in the progression from acute to chronic inflammation and triggers the release of CRP from liver cells, perpetuating the inflammatory cycle.

While not the most commonly ordered test for inflammation, your doctor might request an IL-6 test alongside or following a CRP test if you have a condition linked to inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, or if you have an infection like sepsis.

Tumour Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF-α) Test

TNF-α is a cytokine that has pro-inflammatory properties and helps trigger the immune response. When there is an infection, trauma or exposure to bacterial toxins , TNF-α is rapidly deployed, making it one of the earliest respondents during the immune system's response. However, elevated TNF-α levels are commonly associated with many inflammatory disorders, ranging from diabetes to heart disease.

Currently, the TNF-α test is in the development phase and is only accessible via certain labs for research objectives. Not to mention, the valid ranges and health impacts related to those ranges are yet to be determined due to the lack of studies and data.

How Often Should Patients Get an Inflammation Test?

Currently, inflammation tests are not included in the standard medical care procedure of all adults, and expert guidelines do not advocate their frequent usage. All in all, even though inflammation testing can be valuable in medical assessments and monitoring certain ailments, such as rheumatoid arthritis, it is not particularly useful as a routine test for everyone. 

How GlycanAge Can Help You Manage Inflammation

The long-term accumulation of damage in the body results in chronic inflammation, which can trigger an overactive immune response. This condition can subsequently hasten the ageing process and increase the likelihood of age-related illnesses. Typically, symptoms of chronic inflammation and its associated diseases only become apparent in the advanced stages of development. With that in mind, the GlycanAge biological age test is a reliable means of forecasting future health conditions before they become symptomatic. Meanwhile, your lifestyle choices have a direct impact on the degree of chronic inflammation within your system. The GlycanAge test measures the amount of chronic inflammation to determine your biological age (i.e., the true age of your cells, tissues and organs). Armed with this crucial information, you can make suitable lifestyle changes to reverse inflammation and lower your biological age in the long run.

If you are just starting your wellness journey and want to know your biological age, it’s recommended that you take one test. On the other hand, if you want to monitor your progress and determine the efficacy of your lifestyle changes, two tests might be a better matchBesides that, custom plans are available for biohackers or professional athletes committed to long-term health improvement.

All packages come with affordable payment plans, as well as a free consultation with a scientist and/or qualified healthcare professional to assist you in interpreting your results and creating a tailored action plan to combat the ageing process. To seize control of your health, place an order for your GlycanAge biological age test today.

Concluding Thoughts

Fundamentally speaking, when a specific part of the body is inflamed, it frequently releases specific proteins into the bloodstream. With that in mind, healthcare professionals employ blood tests to determine the presence of inflammation in an individual.

Nonetheless, these tests lack specificity, and several medical conditions can affect the blood test result. This means that further investigations may be necessary to determine the underlying cause of an abnormal test result. Blood inflammatory markers are helpful  but are not a panacea, providing a general direction for physicians to improve their treatment strategy for patients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a blood test?

A blood test is an examination conducted in a laboratory to evaluate substances present in your blood. These tests are often administered to monitor the management of health issues such as diabetes or high cholesterol. In addition, blood tests are commonly performed during routine check-ups or when an individual is feeling unwell.

What is inflammation?

The body's immune system utilises inflammation as a means of defence. In essence, it identifies and eliminates external stimuli that may be detrimental, thereby instigating the healing process. In the meantime, inflammation can manifest in two forms, namely acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.

Are tests for inflammation useful?

Tests designed to gauge inflammation levels can be beneficial in specific circumstances. Nevertheless, none of these tests is entirely flawless. False negative outcomes can arise, indicating the absence of inflammation when it is present. Alternatively, false positive outcomes could take place, with abnormal test results indicating inflammation when there is actually none.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/#:~:text=Inflammation%20is%20part%20of%20the,%5D%5B2%5D%5B3%5D

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805548/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2022.893365/full

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441843/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557485/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24549403/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4110682/

https://academic.oup.com/intimm/article/33/3/127/6041650

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7962638/#:~:text=Tumor%20necrosis%20factor%20alpha%20(TNF%2D%CE%B1)%20is%20a%20cytokine,and%20autoimmune%20diseases%20%5B1%5D

ARTICLE BY

The GlycanAge Team

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