How Can You Test For Inflammation?

Inflammation is a common factor for many dreaded diseases, from cancer to depression to dementia. But inflammation, like pain, has a vital purpose in the body.

Inflammation internally signals to our immune system to heal an injury or attack a foreign invader.

In the case of a splinter, the site gets red as blood surges into the area carrying vital white blood cells for repair while escorting away waste. Inflammation aids in the healing process in this kind of localized injury.

If inflammation is extensive and ongoing, as with an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis - swelling and pain occur perpetually. This long-term high inflammation is damaging.

Unless the underlying factors of the autoimmune disease is treated - this inflammation will persist and will likely lead to other conditions.

In order to lower inflammation, you have to assess how much inflammation you have, where it is, what type it is and identify the triggers for your body.

That is where testing comes in!

A 3d image of the body with a flame coming out of inflamed shoulder. Text overlay that says how to test for inflammation.

Testing For Inflammation

Whether you are treating a chronic condition or you are serious about disease prevention - don't guess at what you need. Don't buy into the labelling on supplements that promises to 'lower inflammation'.

While there may be active and useful properties in these supplements, unless you are given the right dose, in the right form, and use a high grade form of it - most likely you are wasting time and money.

Taking 'inflammation lowering' products or pharmaceuticals only addresses the effect of your health problem - finding and treating the cause of inflammation is necessary for full symptom resolution and improved health.

We will explore two different types of inflammation - 'whole-body' or systemic inflammation and 'gut-specific inflammation'.

These are just a few of the tests I employ when exploring the potential causes of inflammation.

Systemic Inflammation

1. High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP)

This marker evaluates general inflammation. The liver produces this inflammatory molecule and may indicate liver inflammation as well as overall (systemic) inflammation.

This marker is also commonly used to detect major cardiovascular events and death "with associations being linear for hs-CRP ranging between 1 and 5 mg/L and plateauing thereafter to a sustained increased risk." [1]

This marker is also generally high in patients with myocardial infarction (heart attack) [2]

2. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR or sed rate)

This is a useful marker for systemic inflammation. It can also indicate an a tumor, infection or an autoimmune condition like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

This test is measuring how fast your red blood cells fall away from the plasma when your blood is drawn and placed in a narrow tube. The blood cells settle or 'fall away' faster when there are inflammatory materials in the blood.

This test is best used in combination with other tests for inflammation.

3. Ferritin

Usually this is an indicator for how well you are storing iron but can also indicate high levels of inflammation.

Ferritin levels indicate iron deficiency (anemia) or iron overload.

4. Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) Test

The ANA test is tricky, it doesn't necessarily indicate an autoimmune disease but it does indicate that your body may be on the 'autoimmune spectrum' as well as having systemic inflammation.

A positive ANA test does not mean that you have a specific autoimmune disease.

The body produces antinuclear antibodies when it has trouble telling the difference between a threat and your own body.

This usually happens because the immune system is overwhelmed from fighting underlying subclinical infections or dealing with other toxic situations. This tendency, over time, can develop into an autoimmune condition.

5. Antibodies