Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) Lab Test

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
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What does ESR mean in a blood test?

The erythrocyte sedimentation (ESR) is the frequency at which red blood cells get deposited in a time duration of 1 hour. It analyses the depositing frequency (sedimentation) of erythrocytes (red blood cells) in a blood sample which is placed into a tall, thin, vertical tube.

In normal conditions red cells drop slowly, leaving little clear plasma. Increased amounts of abnormal proteins and other proteins such as fibrinogen, immunoglobulins in the blood; which are increased due to inflammation cause red blood cells to drop more rapidly increasing the ESR. The ESR may be increased in various conditions like autoimmune diseases and cancer. The ESR test analyses the degree of inflammation present in the body.

 

How do I prepare for the test?

A small preparation is required for a test. Most importantly your doctor who would be performing the test needs to be made aware of the medication or drugs you’re currently undergoing. These tests have to be stopped before taking the ESR test.

  • No Fasting Required.
  • No other special preparations required.

 

What is Erythrocyte sedimentation?

Erythrocyte sedimentation is also referred to as sed rate. It is a blood test that can diagnose if there is any inflammation existing in the body. It is the rate at which the red blood cells in the body, sediment in a period of one hour.

 

Why ESR Test is done?

ESR test verifies the presence of one or more types of conditions, including infections, tumours, inflammation, and those leading to the breakdown or decreased the function of tissue or organs (degenerative), and/or to asses the progress of disease or effect of therapy.

ESR helps in identifying two specific inflammatory diseases, temporal arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica. 

 

Reason to take Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)Test

Symptoms associated are: 

  • Hypertension 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Pain
  • fullness, and/or squeezing sensation of the chest
  • Jaw pain
  • toothache
  • headache
  • Nausea
  • vomiting

Why do I need this test?

ESR blood test is performed on an individual who faces any kind of inflammation. Inflammation is caused when the Red blood cells get clubbed together forming clumps. These clumps affect the rate at which the RBC starts sinking in a tube of blood. The RBC test lets the doctor know about the amount of clumping that has taken place. The speed at which the cells sink to the bottom of the tube, the more inflammation takes place in the body.

ESR tests are done to know the exact causes of this inflammation. Causes leading to inflammation can be due to

  • Autoimmune diseases– Our immune system prevents the body from germs such as bacteria or viruses. When the body senses about these germs, it sends out certain fighter cells which prevent these germs from attacking the body. The immune system is built to identify the difference between foreign cells and own body cells. But when an autoimmune disease occurs, the immune system mistakenly attacks our own body-like our skin or joins by releasing proteins called autoantibodies attacking healthy cells.
  • Cancers -Cancer is a group of diseases, caused due to abnormal cell growth having the capacity to spread to other organs of our body. Cancer is one of the dreaded diseases which lead to the innumerable deaths in the world.
  • Infections- Infections occur when foreign organisms invade our body causing harm to a person. The organisms enter our bodies to survive itself by multiplying and colonizing. These organisms are called pathogens. Pathogens include fungi, bacteria, viruses and prions. These pathogens are multiplied and adapted quickly.

Inflammation in the body can develop certain conditions in the body, such as:

  • RA- Rheumatoid arthritis – This arthritis cause joint pains in the arms and legs
  • SLE-Systematic Lupus Erythematosus – This is a type of autoimmune disease, also known as lupus. 

 

What other tests might I have along with this test?

The doctor would conduct several other tests simultaneously to diagnosis the causes of inflammation.

 

When do you expect results?

24 to 36 Hours 

 

What is ESR Test?

An erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is a type of blood test that measures how quickly erythrocytes (red blood cells) settle at the bottom of a test tube that contains a blood sample. Normally, red blood cells settle relatively slowly.

A faster-than-normal rate may indicate inflammation in the body. Inflammation is part of your immune response system. It can be a reaction to an infection or injury. Inflammation may also be a sign of chronic disease, an immune disorder, or other medical condition.

Other names: ESR, SED rate sedimentation rate; Westergren sedimentation rate.

 

High ESR symptoms

There are uncountable reasons that cause a high ESR rate. Few of the conditions causing this are

  • Anaemia
  • Old age factor
  • Lymphoma
  • Pregnancy
  • A specific type of arthritis
  • Thyroid disease
  • Disease in the kidneys
  • Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia
  • Temporal Arthritis
  • Multiple myelomas

High test symptoms may also be connected to an autoimmune disorders occurring in the body.

 

High ESR Treatment

High rates of Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate differs by gender

In men, high ESR could range between 117-13.3mm/h

In women, high ESR could range between 115.9-12.5mm/h

 

How to reduce high ESR in the blood?

High ESR can be treated using certain types of medication and diet as prescribed by your doctor.

How is this test done?

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate tests are done by drawing a certain amount of blood from the body, which takes a minute or two. A needle is inserted into the vein pulling out the blood. This blood is inserted into a thin tube seated for an hour. During this period the doctor will look at the rate at which the Red blood cells sink and the number of cells that rest in the bottom.

ESR test cost may differ based on the pathology you choose

 

Does this test pose any risk?

An ESR test causes minimal risk to the body. Certain risks may include

  • Minimal bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Vein inflammation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Infection
  • Fainting
  • Tenderness 

What might affect my test results?

Many medications and drugs affect ESR test report

High test results include:

  • Androgens
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Dextran
  • Estrogens
  • Heroin
  • Methadone
  • Methyldopa
  • Abnormally low test results include:

Drugs used in treating seizures are:

  • Cortisone
  • Aspirin
  • Prednisone
  • Phenothiazines

Sample Required?

Specimen type: Serum (Blood Sample), 

Specimen collection procedure: Venipuncture - Collection of blood from a vein, usually from the arm.

 

What do my ESR test results mean?

The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate test results would determine the causes of inflammation.

ESR test prices may vary depending on the Lab you visit.

Kindly note: ESR Normal values tend to vary from one pathology lab to another

Abnormal test results

An abnormal ESR test does not diagnose any specific disease. It recognizes any kind of inflammation existing in the body and indicates more tests to be performed. This test never gives you the right results.

Understanding results of Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)

Reference RangeInterpretation
0 to 15 mm/hrMale
0 to 20 mm/hrFemale
0 to 20 mm/hrChildren

‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’

References

  1. https://labtestsonline.org/tests/erythrocyte-sedimentation-rate-esr
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/sed-rate/about/pac-20384797
  3. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/test-esr.html