What is the ESR Blood Test?
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate or ESR test is a type of blood test used to detect levels of inflammation in the body. This inflammation can be a reaction due to a surgery, infection, or injury. Inflammation in the body can also be a sign of a chronic disease, an immune related disorder, or any other medical condition.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a general process through which the body’s white blood cells (WBCs) and its process of protecting the body from infection from foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. Inflammation is the body’s defense mechanism against harmful bacteria and viruses and also plays a major role in the healing process. It can also be called a biological response.
What diseases are related to inflammation?
The problems related to inflammation are asthma, tuberculosis, arthritis, periodontitis, rheumatoid arthritis, sinusitis, heart problems, cancer, alzheimer’s, and even diabetes. The ESR blood test also detects blood disorders such as polycythemia, sickle cell anemia, and leukocytosis.
What are the types of inflammation?
There are mainly two types of inflammation, both of which can cause various symptoms and can result in a variety of issues and diseases.
The two types of inflammation are:
1. Acute Inflammation:
In this type of inflammation, the symptoms are short lived. This also depends on the type of injury or illness.
There are five main symptoms of this type of inflammation which includes:
- Pain: May occur only when the infected area is touched
- Redness: This may occur when the blood supply increases in the infected area.
- Loss of function: This is related to difficulty in moving a joint, loss of breath, loss of taste, loss of smell and much more.
- Swelling: If fluids build up, a condition called edema can happen which turns into excessive swelling.
- Heated skin: The affected area may be warm to touch, due to persistent swelling.
2. Chronic Inflammation:
In this type of inflammation, inflammation remains for a longer time period. It can last months and even years and can cause conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Alziehmer’s disease
This type of inflammation has similar symptoms to that of acute inflammation, but it may also include:
- Loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness
Chronic inflammation can also develop if a person has autoimmune disorders and autoinflammatory diseases. Blood test home collection can help in situations when the body is not capable of moving.
Factors that may increase the risk of chronic inflammation are:
- Alcohol consumption
- Imbalanced diet
- Imbalanced sleep pattern
- Low sex hormones
Does inflammation cause pain?
Unfortunately, inflammation can cause all sorts of pains such as sharp pain, throbbing pain, constant pain, pinching pain, shooting pain, and stabbing pain. In fact, biochemical processes can also induce pain as they affect how nerves act.
How is the ESR blood test done?
The ESR blood test reveals the levels of inflammation in the body. This test is performed through a blood test, which is not the only test to derive the inflammatory activities in the body. However, this test can help the doctors and medical staff to monitor the progress of the inflammatory disease or injury.
In this blood test, the focus is on how fast the 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 rate may indicate inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause the cells to clump. Since these clumps are denser than individual cells, they settle to the bottom more quickly. The farther the red blood cells have descended, the greater the inflammatory response of your immune system.
Why is the ESR blood test done?
The ESR blood test is done to evaluate unexplained fevers, pains and discomfort in the joints and muscles. It also detects different types of arthritis such as giant cell arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, and rheumatoid arthritis. The test also determines the amount of inflammation and is also used to monitor the treatment for the same.
An ESR test can't pinpoint the problem that's causing inflammation in the body, it's usually accompanied by other blood tests, such as the C-reactive protein (CRP) test.
What do the test results mean?
This test may vary from person to person based on age, health, gender, etc. The results also mean differently when it comes to different people.
The test is measured in millimeters per hour (mm/h).
The normal values are:
- 0 to 10 mm/h in children
- 0 to 15 mm/h in men younger than 50
- 0 to 20 mm/h in men older than 50
- 0 to 20 mm/h in women younger than 50
- 0 to 30 mm/h in women older than 50
If in any case the values are above 100, immediate medical assistance is required.
In case you or anyone you know is facing abnormal pains, fever etc, it is advisable to book with a blood testing lab immediately, or you can also visit the lab nearest to your location.