How to Detect Hidden Inflammation: CRP Blood Test February 18, 2015

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein produced by the liver that can be measured in your blood to detect inflammation in your body. The higher your CRP level, the greater your level of inflammation.

Chronic vs. Normal Inflammation

When the C-reactive protein binds to specific molecules in the body, this increases the production of inflammatory signaling molecules called cytokines. This is a normal response to "acute" inflammation, such as when you sprain an ankle or have surgery. However, inflammation revealed by an elevated CRP level can also be caused by excessive stress, an overly-sedentary lifestyle, the effects of environmental toxins, genetics, and diets high in processed foods.

If your CRP levels do not return to normal after the onset of injury or prolonged stress, "chronic" inflammation sets in, which can slowly wreak havoc and trigger a host of health problems. Some studies suggest that chronic internal inflammation in the body might, over time, lead to many other age- and inflammation-related disorders, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Use CRP Tests to Detect Infection and Inflammation

The CRP blood test can typically reveal infections or evaluate for chronic inflammatory conditions that might not be immediately obvious. For example, a CRP test might be ordered after surgery to look for signs of a hidden infection or to track the progress of chronic inflammatory conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease. A high-sensitivity CRP test (hs-CRP) is also used to evaluate your risk for coronary heart disease. Studies have shown that higher CRP levels correlate with higher risk of narrowed coronary arteries.

Dr. Randolph and his team of clinicians often recommend a CRP test to detect levels of hidden inflammation in your body. Knowing your CRP level allows you to be proactive in reducing the effects of chronic inflammation through lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, increasing exercise, and taking supplements that reduce inflammation.