Medicine is a constantly evolving field. Scientists work tirelessly to discover new treatments for diseases. Diagnostic test techniques have also developed over time. Tests are necessary to detect conditions, ascertain a diagnosis, prepare treatment plans, and monitor the treatment. Medical tests can help you keep track of your overall well-being. Routine testing helps physicians make sound health decisions. One such diagnostic test is the C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test.
The CRP Test
In case of an injury or infection, the body protects the tissue through inflammation. It may cause pain, redness, or swelling in the affected area. Chronic and autoimmune diseases can also cause inflammation. In response to inflammation, the c-reactive (CRP) protein is released into the bloodstream. The liver makes the c-reactive protein.
The average levels of c-reactive protein are low in the blood. High levels can indicate an infection or a disorder. The CRP test measures the level of this protein in the blood. It detects or monitors conditions that cause inflammation. These include bacterial and fungal infections, autoimmune disorders, infection of the bone, and inflammatory bowel disease.
The CRP test price may vary depending on the city and the lab. Home collection services are also available for CRP tests in certain cities.
How is the test conducted?
A healthcare professional takes a blood sample from a vein in your arm. The blood sample is drawn using a needle. A vial or a test tube is used to collect the blood. A bandage is placed over the site and the procedure is completed within 5 minutes.
When the needle pricks, you will experience a slight sting in your arm or hand. In some cases, the site may be sore later. There are some risks associated with blood tests using needles while undergoing this test. Sometimes, a person may feel lightheaded or experience bleeding, infection, and bruising.
There is no preparation required for this test. Tell your healthcare practitioner about the medicines and supplements that you are taking.
Why is it necessary?
You will require the CRP test if your doctor wants to investigate an infection. The levels of CRP rise and fall depending on the inflammation.
A severe bacterial infection may warrant the C-reactive protein test. Symptoms of the disease can include fever, chills, rapid breathing, elevated heart rate, nausea, and vomiting.
Viral infections can also cause a rise in CRP levels. An infection can be due to a potentially life-threatening condition like blood poisoning or sepsis. The symptoms of sepsis include fever, chills, headache, pain, and rashes.
CRP tests monitor patients’ post-surgery or invasive procedures. It is done to check for infections during the convalescence period. A healthcare practitioner may order a CRP test if they suspect that you have an autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is one such autoimmune disease.
Interpreting the test results
The test results differ depending on age, gender, medical history, and other factors. They also depend on the lab where the test is conducted. Consult your healthcare practitioner to understand the test results.
Depending on the procedure used, the normal range varies. Generally, a CRP level under ten mg/L milligrams per liter is considered normal. Levels higher than average indicate an inflammatory response. Further testing can determine the cause of the inflammation.
CRP levels in the range of 10 to 100 mg/L mean a moderate elevation. It may indicate inflammation due to certain conditions. These include lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis, bronchitis, or a heart attack.
A level higher than 100 mg/L indicates a marked elevation. It can be due to a significant injury, severe bacterial infections, viral infections, or systemic vasculitis.
What do the CRP levels indicate?
A high CRP level indicates inflammation in the body. However, a high level does not point to a medical condition that requires treatment. High CRP levels can also be due to smoking, obesity, diabetes, and inadequate exercise. An elevated level may be due to pregnancy, insomnia, gingivitis, cold, depression, or a recent injury. A drop in CRP levels can signify that the treatment for inflammation is working. Some medicines may also cause the CRP levels to be lower than usual. These include aspirin, steroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
A high-sensitivity CRP test (hs-CRP) differs from the regular CRP test. It may be used to assess the risk of heart disease. It can detect more minor changes in CRP than the standard CRP test.
C-reactive protein is a substance produced by the liver in case of inflammation. The C-reactive protein test or CRP test is a non-specific test. It detects inflammation in the body. It does not determine the cause or location. Additional tests may be required to probe further. A high CRP level can be a sign of cardiovascular disease. The CRP test price is not very high and varies depending on the lab and city. If you are experiencing discomfort or changes in the body, speak to your healthcare provider. A doctor may order the CRP blood test to investigate further.