Inflammation is a natural response of your body trying to protect itself against harm, trauma, or infections. Usually, following an encounter with a bacteria or virus, your body mounts an army of cells called white blood cells to fight against these aggressors. When you cut your finger, your body will send an army of cells that will help repair the tissues’ damage.
What are the normal signs of inflammation?
Inflammation is causing swelling and redness of the tissues. Let’s say you have an infection of the cut finger; then you will see a lot of swelling and redness around that area, sometimes pain.
Sometimes, inflammation is an exaggerated response of your body and becomes harmful instead of being helpful. That is happening in autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
How does your doctor measure inflammation?
Doctors usually order two tests: sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) to measure inflammation. The sedimentation rate is a measurement of the speed of red blood cells falling in a tube over 1 hour. The CRP is a protein secreted by your liver as a response to inflammation.
Most common causes for elevated markers of inflammation
- Infections (bacterial infections)
- Connective tissue diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus
- Vasculitis: Giant cell arteritis, ANCA vasculitis
- Malignancies: lymphoma or myeloma other cancers
Be aware that obesity, increase in age can cause elevated levels of inflammation.
Therefore, your doctor will always pair the symptoms you have with the laboratory test to understand the diagnosis better.
Suppose you are still not sure what is causing elevated markers of inflammation. In that case, we are happy to schedule you an appointment with our doctor today and help you feel better.
About the Author
Diana Girnita, MD, PhD is an US board certified internal medicine and rheumatology. She completed a PhD in immunology, postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, immunology fellowship at University of Pittsburgh and rheumatology fellowship at University of Cincinnati. She is the founder&CEO of Rheumatologist OnCall, a telemedicine company that serves multiple states in the US. Dr. Girnita is a graduate of the Nutrition Science course from Stanford University. Dr. Girnita was recognized many times with “Top Doctor” award (2017-2020) and is frequently invited speaker of the US National Arthritis Foundation. Read more