What is an ESR test?

The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test calculates how quickly red blood cells sink to the bottom of the blood sample. Different medical diseases make the ESR either high or low. So, doctors cannot use the test results to make a specific diagnosis of the disease.

The ESR test only confirms the existence or absence of inflammatory activity in the body. Hence, doctors refer to it as a nonspecific test. To diagnose, doctors frequently combine the results of ESR testing with clinical observations and the patient’s medical background.

The doctor can ask for a blood test if your body is undergoing abnormally high levels of inflammation. However, this test doesn’t identify a particular disease or condition. ESR test lets your doctor know whether you are inflamed and what other testing is needed.

The test helps your doctor determine whether you have an inflammatory disease like arthritis, cancer, or another infection. The ESR test pinpoints the source of inflammation or monitors existing health issues in your body.

For the following reasons, a doctor may advise a patient to get an ESR test:

  • Headache
  • Joint discomfort
  • Appetite loss
  • Loss of weight or deteriorating health

How to prepare for the ESR test?

ESR is a basic blood test that needs the usual preparation. If you already use or medications, you should inform your doctor. Some medicines could change the natural results of the test.

Moreover, informing your doctor if you are expecting or starting a period is advisable.

To draw blood from your vein, a phlebotomist will tie a band around the top half of your arm to take blood from a vein in your arm. They will insert a needle into your vein after cleaning the area with an antiseptic. The blood will get collected into a vial or tube.

A piece of gauze and a bandage is applied to the injured area to stop the bleeding. You can feel a tiny sting while your blood is taken. You may have a mild bruise. It may result in bleeding, pain, and a dizzy feeling.

What are the risks associated with the ESR test?

The ESR test is easy and only takes a few minutes to finish. There are very few risks associated with the procedure. The test patient may experience slight pain when the needle pricks their arm. Some people may experience short faintness or drowsiness when the needle punctures the skin. Other patients may bleed a little bit. These side effects can continue for a few days. This bruise could become a hematoma in more delicate patients.

What Do the ESR Test’s Results Mean?

After the lab test receives your samples, you will get the results in a few hours. A researcher will place your red blood cells in a tall, thin tube. After placing, the researcher will track their fall for an hour. Red blood cells stick together when your body is inflamed because of abnormal proteins in your blood.

These clumps weigh more than individual blood cells. Thus, they drop to the bottom of the tube more quickly. As blood cells sink more quickly, your body becomes more inflamed.

The rate at which sample red blood cells fall to the bottom of a test tube is measured in millimeters/hour (mm/h). This is known as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. The ERS checks your red blood cells’ distance from the plasma at the tube’s top. This is checked after an hour in millimeters (mm).

What do normal ESR test results mean?

Each individual has a different erythrocyte sedimentation rate within the normal range. Age, and other factors might affect ESR. There is no reference range for this test that is universally applicable. The following range is generally recognized as a complete health solution for healthy people.

The ESR test normal range varies from 0-15 mm per hour in the case of males. ESR test normal range is between 0-20 mm per hour in the case of females below 50 years old.

An unusually high ESR indicates that the red blood cells are depleting more quickly than expected. This mostly happens when the RBCs have a more significant protein content, making them stick together.

The ESR can increase in a variety of conditions. A high ESR can result from other medical disorders. However, it is generally linked with inflammatory diseases.

Conclusion

A test result for the ESR outside the usual range is not always a reason for concern. A few non-medical factors may lead to unusual outcomes.

An ESR test cannot specifically identify a medical problem. Somehow, this test reveals whether inflammation is present in the body or not.

Doctors will ask you to do additional tests and get more clinical data if the test suggests.