What Is The ESR Test?

What Is The ESR Test?

At some point in time, we all may have been asked to undertake an Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) test. This test is performed to detect any kind of inflammation in the body and helps in the diagnosis of conditions including cancer, autoimmune diseases, and infections.

This test can also help in monitoring certain chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. It is usually combined with some additional examinations to understand the basis of certain symptoms a person may be experiencing.

ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) Test Procedure

This test takes only about a few minutes. Firstly, blood samples are collected in a thin tube after cleaning of the skin over the vein. The doctor then covers the punctured site to curb any bleeding. In this test, it is measured how rapidly the red blood cells fall to the lower section of the tube, A possible inflammation can give rise to abnormal proteins to turn up in the blood. They, in turn, cause the red blood cells to fall faster. Although this test does not involve any complications, a person might experience inflammation of the vein, infection, fainting, excessive bleeding, bruising and light-headedness.

Measuring ESR

Fasting ESR is evaluated in mm/hour or millimeters per hour. The following are the normal ESR levels in various categories:

For Men:
Age above 50: below 20 mm/ hr. Age under 50: below 15 mm/hr.

For Women:
Age above 50: below 30 mm/hr. Age under 50: below 20 mm/hr.

For new-borns:
under 2 mm/hr

Children who have not attained puberty:
In the range of 3 and 13 mm/hr.

  • If ESR is > 100 it’s always abnormal.
  • ESR is always done in a fasting state.


An irregular ESR indicates an inflammation. However, the results also vary with other aspects such as use of medication or age. A high ESR may be indicative of conditions such as kidney disease, anemia, etc. ESR rates are higher in pregnancy as well.

A lower than normal count may be because of conditions such as sickle cell anemia, congestive heart failure, etc. However, in case of abnormal counts, worry should be kept aside and one should follow what is necessary to curb the symptoms in consultation with the doctor.

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