Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) is a common laboratory test used to measure the rate at which red blood cells (erythrocytes) settle to the bottom of a tube of blood. It is a simple and inexpensive test that can help diagnose various diseases and monitor treatment progress. In this article, we will explain what the ESR test is, how it works, its normal range, and what abnormal results may indicate.

What is the ESR Test?

The ESR test measures the rate at which red blood cells (RBCs) settle in a test tube over a period of time. The blood is mixed with an anticoagulant and placed in a vertical test tube. The rate at which RBCs settle to the bottom of the tube is measured in millimeters per hour (mm/hr).

ESR is a non-specific test, which means that it can indicate the presence of inflammation or infection, but cannot determine the specific cause. Therefore, it is usually performed in combination with other tests to help diagnose and monitor the progress of various conditions.

What is the Normal Range for ESR?

The normal range of ESR can vary depending on age, sex, and other factors. In general, the normal range for ESR is:

Age Normal Range
Men under 50 0-15 mm/hr
Women under 50 0-20 mm/hr
Men over 50 0-20 mm/hr
Women over 50 0-30 mm/hr

(Source: American Association for Clinical Chemistry)

It is important to note that a normal ESR result does not necessarily mean that a person is free of disease. ESR can be normal in some cases of infection, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.

What can Abnormal ESR Results Indicate?

Abnormal ESR results can indicate the presence of various conditions, such as:

  • Infection: Infections, such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and viral infections, can cause an increase in ESR.
  • Inflammation: Inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease, can cause an increase in ESR.
  • Cancer: Some cancers, such as lymphoma and multiple myeloma, can cause an increase in ESR.
  • Anemia: Low levels of red blood cells (anemia) can cause an increase in ESR.
  • Pregnancy: ESR levels can increase during pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the preparations for the ESR test?

There are no specific preparations required for the ESR test. However, it is recommended to avoid heavy meals and exercise before the test.

Is the ESR test painful?

No, the ESR test is not painful. It only involves drawing a small sample of blood from a vein in your arm.

How long does it take to get ESR test results?

ESR test results are usually available within 24-48 hours.

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