The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is a simple test where the speed or the rate at which red blood cells (RBCs) fall or sediment to the bottom of the tube, is calculated in a period of one hour. The rate at which the RBCs sediment is measured and noted in mm/h. Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is a non-specific indication for presence of inflammation in the body.

What Happens if Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is High?

What Happens if Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is High?

The higher the Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR, the more likely are the chances that there is inflammation present in the body. In females, the basal Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is slightly higher. High Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR also occurs in conditions like inflammation anemia, pregnancy, autoimmune disorders (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), infections, certain kidney diseases and some cancers (multiple myeloma, lymphoma).

It is also important to remember that the Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR tends to get high with age. So, in such a case, where a slightly older individual has a higher ESR, the course of action is to wait for a month and repeat the test. However, if a patient has a significantly higher ESR, i.e. above 100, then it is almost always an indication of an underlying condition.

Other tests which can be done to find out the cause of high Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR include a full blood count, platelet tests, chest x-ray, plasma electrophoresis and kidney function tests.

Medical Conditions Where Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is High: Anemia, lymphoma, kidney disease, multiple myeloma, pregnancy, old age, temporal arteritis, thyroid disease, certain types of arthritis and Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia.

Autoimmune Diseases Where Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is High: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), giant cell arteritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, primary macroglobulinemia, hyperfibrinogenemia, necrotizing or hypersensitivity vasculitis.

Infections where Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is High: Heart infection, bone infection, heart valve infection, skin infection, rheumatic fever, tuberculosis, systemic infection etc.

In some cases, if the Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is high, then it can indicate some serious underlying medical condition, but mostly it can be an indication of something minor. So, it is important not to stress if the Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or ESR is high and instead work with your physician in getting down to the root cause of the problem and then solving the issue.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: April 3, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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