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PCT: What is it, Low, High and Treatment


PCT: What is it, Low, High and Treatment

PCT, also known as the procalcitonin test, is used to measure the level of procalcitonin in the blood. It is an important indicator in case of bacterial infection and sepsis development. In these two cases, where the defense cells in the body are intensively activated, the procalcitonin value peaks especially between the second and fourth hours. PCT is the value that shows the rate of spread of infection or sepsis in the bloodstream. In addition, in cases such as meningitis, tissue tumors, and organ rejection after organ transplantation, the process should be proceeded under the supervision of a physician due to the high PCT value.

What should be the PCT value?

In an individual whose body functions and hormonal system are functioning optimally, procalcitonin, that is, the precursor of calcitonin, is quickly converted into calcitonin. Thanks to this mechanism, the PCT value remains at a low level. In healthy people, the PCT value is below 0.1 µg/l. The presence of infection is suspected at a PCT value exceeding 0.25 ng/mL. According to sepsis values, events occurring in the body can be evaluated as follows:

  • Normal values ​​between 0 and 0.05 µg/L

  • Low risk of sepsis if less than 0.5 µg/L

  • 0.5-2 µg/L sepsis risk

  • Medium and high risk of sepsis if 2-10 µg/L

  • 10 µg/L and above is considered a high risk of sepsis.

What are the symptoms of low PCT?

Since a high PCT value is an indicator of conditions such as bacterial infection and sepsis, a low value does not indicate a negative situation. On the contrary, it indicates that there is no bacterial infection or sepsis or tissue damage. If the person has discomfort but the PCT value is low, other causes of discomfort should be investigated. A decrease in the PCT value in case of an infection or disease is among the signs that the treatment is progressing successfully.

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What are the Causes of PCT Low?

A low PCT value does not usually reflect a negative situation. A low PCT, which indicates the absence of infection or sepsis, is a desirable condition. As it is known, PCT value is high in cases of bacterial infection and sepsis. If the PCT value is low and there is still weakness or illness in the body, it can be thought to be viral in origin. A decrease in the PCT value after the onset of the disease is an indication that the infection is bacterial in origin and that the treatment is successful. In short, a low PCT value is among the important examination results to confirm that many diseases are not present.

How to Treat Low PCT?

When examining hemogram tests, a low PCT value does not pose any negative effects. If the PCT value is high rather than low, infections and disorders should be suspected. For this reason, in case of low PCT, the general condition of the person should be evaluated to determine the need for treatment. If the disease is suspected, a specific treatment plan should be created by learning other tests, x-ray results and the individual’s health history.

What is PCT Elevation?

A high PCT value of 0.5 µg/L is considered a sign of bacterial infection or sepsis in tissues. Due to the presence of infection in the body, antibacterial treatment is required first. PCT level varies depending on the intensity and height of infection. In cases of severe bacterial infection such as sepsis and meningitis, the PCT value may reach its highest levels. In cases of sepsis and multiple tissue or organ damage, if treatment is not started early, the process may end with dire consequences. For this reason, the process should be followed carefully. The treatment process of many diseases can be followed by monitoring step by step how long the PCT elevation has been present and how much of a decrease it has experienced during the treatment process. When necessary, other blood tests, bacterial culture test results, and x-ray imaging results should also be monitored and evaluated.

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What are the symptoms of PCT elevation?

There are some symptoms of PCT elevation, which is an alarm indicator for many bacterial infections and disorders in the body. These symptoms can be listed as follows:

  • excessive sweating

  • moist skin

  • Feeling of pain and suffering of unknown origin

  • accelerated breathing

  • Decreased frequency of urination

  • Palpitation

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)

  • Brain fog and lack of concentration

If the patient has these symptoms, the situation should be conveyed to the healthcare personnel quickly and clearly by the patient or his/her relative. In cases such as cardiological disorders and tissue rejection, the patient is treated with a complicated treatment.

How is PCT Elevation Treated?

High PCT value in the body may develop due to many reasons. In order to reduce PCT in a healthy way, the source of infection and discomfort must first be determined. First of all, the patient is physically examined by the physician and a disease history is taken. If necessary, blood tests and imaging tests such as x-rays may also be requested. Once the cause of PCT elevation is determined, treatment is started.

If the cause of PCT elevation is a bacterial infection, a bacterial culture test is first requested. Accordingly, antibiotic treatment is started. If there is inflammation in the tissues and organs, the abscess must be carefully cleaned. For this application, microsurgical methods can be used by applying drainage to the abscessed area. If PCT is high due to body tumors and chronic diseases, the treatment process is shaped depending on the diagnosis.

PCT elevation is considered as part of the treatment of a disease, not as a stand-alone treatment in complex cases. For example, in processes such as cancer that require chemotherapy and similar treatment, all body systems are evaluated together and a holistic treatment approach is demonstrated. In cases such as burns, nutrition and fluid balance in the body are taken into consideration depending on the degree of the burn. Meeting the need for high amounts of protein and maintaining body electrolyte balance are also important parts of the treatment.

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Symptoms indicating a high PCT value are also indicators of many diseases and infections and indicate the need for early intervention. If you think you have these symptoms and especially if you have risk factors such as a history of certain diseases, do not be late to get examined. Recover your health with timely and early intervention by making an appointment with our health institution.

What Causes PCT Elevation?

Elevated PCT, which develops due to bacterial infections and diseases, is the clearest symptom of certain diseases. Conditions that cause PCT elevation in the body can be listed as follows:

  • Sepsis and tissue and organ damage

  • Burns from the first degree

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)

  • Severe trauma situation

  • Endocarditis (inflammation of the heart)

  • Meningitis (inflammation of brain tissues)

  • Severe urinary tract infections, especially in children

  • Inability of tissues to reach enough blood and oxygen due to the reduced ability of the heart to pump blood

  • Tissue incompatibility and tissue rejection that may develop after organ transplantations

  • Tumor and post-tumor spread infections

  • Surgical intervention and postoperative infection

All these conditions that cause PCT elevation require urgent and rapid treatment. In addition to all these, it should not be forgotten that PCT may increase in some cases without being due to infection. The PCT value may also increase in cases where the oxygen level in the blood decreases. It is possible to encounter sudden PCT increases in people experiencing allergic asthma attacks. It has also been observed that PCT values ​​increase during attack periods in individuals with COPD. Pneumonia and lung-related respiratory system disorders are also among the factors that can increase PCT. Increased oxygenation in the body due to high altitude can also increase PCT. Heart failure and cessation of heartbeat are also among the events that increase PCT and are not caused by infection.


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