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C-Reactive Protein CRP

Also Known as: serum c-reactive protein, CRP

What is a CRP blood test?

A c-reactive protein test measures the C-reactive protein (CRP) level in your blood. CRP is a protein that your liver produces and releases into the blood in response to inflammation, a normal process of your body in response to injury or infection.  Inflammation in the affected area can produce pain, redness, and swelling. Healthcare providers also use CRP levels to guide the treatment of bacterial infections and monitor inflammatory processes in autoimmune and certain chronic disorders. C-reactive protein levels in your blood are generally low, but high amounts could indicate a severe infection or other diseases.

What is the test used for?

A CRP test can be used to detect or monitor inflammation-causing disorders. These are some of them:

  • Bacterial infections, such as sepsis, may become severe and sometimes life-threatening.
  • An infection caused by a fungus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease:  a disorder causing swelling and bleeding in the intestines
  • Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis: are examples of inflammatory autoimmune disorders.
  • Osteomyelitis: a type of bone infection.
  • Minor inflammation: may be caused by various factors, including smoking, diabetes, and physical injury.

Why and when do you need this test?

CRP testing is generally used to detect or monitor health conditions linked to inflammation. You may need to have this test if you experience severe bacterial infection symptoms. These are some of the symptoms :

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Increased Heart rate
  • Vomiting and nausea

This test may be used to monitor your treatment if you have previously been diagnosed with an infection or a chronic condition. CRP levels fluctuate depending on how much inflammation is present. If your CRP levels drop, it means your anti-inflammatory medicine is working. Since there are no precise guidelines for when CRP testing should be performed, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider about whether a CRP test is suitable for the situation.

What kind of sample is required for the test?

A small needle will be used by a healthcare professional to obtain a blood sample from a vein in your arm.  A small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial once the needle is inserted. When the needle goes in or out, it may sting a little. It usually takes less than five minutes to complete this process.

Do you need to prepare for the test?

A CRP blood test does not require any specific preparation. If there are any special instructions to follow, your health care provider will inform you.

Are there any risks to this test?

Having a blood test carries relatively little risk. You may experience minor pain or bruising where the needle gets inserted, but most symptoms disappear quickly.

What do the test results mean?

If you have a high level of CRP in your blood, you most likely have inflammation in your body. A CRP test cannot tell you what is causing the inflammation or where it is coming from. CRP levels that are incredibly high have been linked to various infections, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and diseases affecting the body. If your results are abnormal, your doctor may prescribe more tests to determine the cause of your inflammation.

A greater CRP level than usual does not always imply that you have an underlying medical issue that requires treatment. Other factors may also cause your CRP levels to rise, such as smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity. Consult your health care provider if you have any questions regarding your results.

Related Tests Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate test (ESR or sed rate), hs CRP

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