What Are Inflammation and Autoimmune Disorders?

Inflammation is the body’s immune response to an irritant, such as a germ, foreign object (splinter), bacteria, virus, or due to a medical condition. Your body fights these irritants, and as a result releases substances called inflammatory mediators: the hormones bradykinin and histamine. Mucus membranes release more fluid to flush out “the bad stuff,” and this can result in a runny nose or fluid entering tissue and causing swelling. Common symptoms include fatigue, joint pain and swelling, skin problems like rash, abdominal pain or digestive issues, recurring fever, and swollen glands.

There are two types of inflammation:

  • Acute inflammation – your body responds to sudden damage like a cut or splinter, and sends inflammatory cells to ignite the healing process.
  • Chronic inflammation – your body sends inflammatory cells when there is no trigger like bacteria or injury. For example, inflammatory cells can attack joint tissue and cause damage and pain called rheumatoid arthritis.

Inflammatory disease is a broad term for autoimmune diseases caused by chronic inflammation. Autoimmune diseases occur when your body mistakenly attacks healthy cells. Some risk factors are correlated with an overactive immune system. These include genetic disorders like lupus or multiple sclerosis, being overweight or obese, smoking, and certain medications like antibiotics or drugs used to lower blood pressure. But ultimately, researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes autoimmune diseases, and there can be comorbidities like heart problems, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and other conditions.

Examples of autoimmune diseases include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
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The Role of Inflammation and Autoimmune Testing

Inflammation testing and autoimmune testing can help differentiate diseases since there is a notable overlap among symptoms associated with autoimmune conditions. Consider testing if you have a family history of autoimmune disorders, are experiencing ongoing inflammatory symptoms, or notice a new symptom.

Test results can guide treatment and behaviors like changes to the diet and exercise that can improve quality of life. Testing can also help a health care professional monitor an inflammatory condition and determine whether treatment is working. Keep in mind, tests designed to detect inflammation do not distinguish between acute and chronic inflammation.

Who should get testing?

If you have a family history of autoimmune disorders, your doctor might suggest testing as a proactive measure so you can make necessary lifestyle changes to protect your health. You also might need immunity testing if you are experiencing symptoms associated with an autoimmune disorder, including fever, rash, fatigue, joint pain or swelling, or muscle pain.

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Getting Tested for Inflammation and Autoimmune Disorders

Inflammation and autoimmune testing are almost always performed in a controlled medical setting like a doctor’s office, hospital, or accredited laboratory. Many different autoimmune tests identify inflammation, so it’s best that a medical professional guides you toward the right test given your family history, symptoms, and health status. If you have undergone inflammation testing, a clinician might recommend autoimmune testing that can detect specific disorders.

Costs of autoimmune testing

The cost of an autoimmune test will vary by location and test type. Labs, clinics, and at-home testing companies may accept insurance to cover or lower your cost of testing.

Testing can range dramatically in cost depending on what type of autoimmune panel you require and whether you get an at-home inflammation test or an at-home autoimmune test. For example, an ANA test from Testing.com is $49. On the other hand, a comprehensive Celiac, IBS, and Crohn’s Array (CICA) costs $696 to evaluate your genetic risk and serum markers associated with those diseases.

Types of sample collection

The sample for an autoimmune test will depend on the particular test you’re taking. Generally speaking, blood tests for inflammation and autoimmune issues is most common.

Getting test results

You may receive autoimmune test results during a follow-up appointment with your doctor, over the phone, or through online medical charts. If you order from Testing.com, results will be available in your online account. It’s important to discuss results with a health care professional.

If autoimmune test results are positive, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes such as diet and possibly medications.

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