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ESR - 000361

ESR stands for Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate and is sometimes referred to as the ‘’sed rate’’ as well. It is another commonly used investigation by doctors, as it is used to assess how much of inflammation is occurring within your body at a given time. It is a good indicator of a problem in the body although it does not specifically tell what is wrong.

The ESR test is routinely used by doctors, and is a measure of how fast your red blood cells can sediment in a column, when a sample of blood is placed in a capillary tube. Therefore this test is measured in units of time, and if there is inflammation going on in some part of your body, then the longer the red blood cells will take to sediment.

This test is done to help determine a possible cause for your illness, and is also used to monitor conditions which end up causing inflammation in your body, such as arthritis and infections. If you have been started on treatment, in order to determine the response to treatment. This test will commonly be ordered by your doctor if you complain of fever for a long period of time, prolonged cough and night sweats.

There are no special preparations that you have to make before you undergo this test.

During this, a Medical Lab Technician will draw out a small volume of blood, using a needle and syringe which is inserted into a vein in your arm. This blood sample is then sent to the lab for analysis.

Since this test is a simple drawing of blood, you will not feel a lot of discomfort. You might experience a mild pain on inserting the needle, but you will not experience any uneasiness afterwards.

There is very little risk in undergoing an ESR test, because it is a simple blood drawing. Very rarely you might continue to have a mild pain or some swelling at the site where the needle was inserted, but these symptoms will resolve on their own within a couple of days.

The results of the ESR test is given in mm/hr, and the normal range varies according to age and gender. Therefore your target values should be as follows:
• Men under the age of 50 - less than 15 mm/hr
• Men over the age of 50 - less than 20 mm/hr
• Women under the age of 50 - less than 20 mm/hr
• Women over the age of 50 - less than 30 mm/hr
• Newborns - 0 -2 mm/hr

If your test results are showing vales higher than the cut off limits mentioned above, you should speak to your doctor about it.

While the ESR can rise during various illnesses, certain medications which you might be taking and advanced age may also elevate this. Therefore, if you get a higher than normal result, you have to discuss these possibilities with your doctor as well.