What Is The Role Of ESR In A Blood Report?
The term ESR stands for erythrocyte sedimentation rate. It signifies the rate at which red blood cells precipitate per hour in our body. It is fairly common among various blood tests and the ESR-test is performed to help doctors diagnose reasons that cause inflammation, pain etc. in the body. The test was devised by a Polish scientist Edmund Faustyn Biernacki in 1897 and because of this it is also commonly known as Biernacki’s test.
Why is an ESR-test done?
ESR-test is recommended by doctors in those cases where the symptoms of the patients suggest an effect on the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. The symptoms include pain in the neck and shoulder, anemia, headaches, inelasticity in joints. Loss of weight, which is not explained by improved diet, is also among the common symptoms.
The test does not tell a doctor what exactly is the cause or where the inflammation is. For these reasons, the ESR-test is normally used in conjunction with other tests. This conjunction makes a doctor able to rule out the possibility of suggesting an incorrect diagnosis.
The ESR-test is specifically used in diagnosing cancerous and inflammatory diseases. It falls under the category of screening tests which means it cannot be used to diagnose a specific disease. However, it is useful is detecting some common inflammatory diseases like chronic inflammation and damage of large arteries in the face and head. In medical terminology it is called temporal arteritis – a condition which causes pain and weakness in the neck, shoulder muscles and pelvis. Stiffness in the morning is a common medical problem and its medical name is polymyalgia rheumatica. The test is also useful when it comes to the detection and monitoring of tuberculosis and tissue death.
What does the test involve?
The back of the hand or the inside of the elbow is cleaned with an antiseptic. Then pressure is applied to around the area to make the veins there swell up. Then some blood is withdrawn from one of those sites. The blood is collected into a pipette, transferred into a container and then a sample of that blood is sent to a lab, where, with the help of advanced machines, it is noted how fast the red blood cells coagulate, or in this case, fall to the bottom of the container.
What to do with the numbers?
The ESR-test talks, like any scientific experiment, in numbers. And below is a chart which can be consulted to confirm if your ESR-test report is normal or not:
Chart showing what the normal ESR is:
Men (over 50): less than 50 mm/hr
Women (over 50) less than 30 mm/hr
Men (under 50): less than 15 mm/hr
Women (under 50): less than 20 mm/hr
Children (new born) 0-2 mm/hr
Mm/hr = millimeters per hour
If the results are not normal, then any of the above diseases may turn out to a cause. But, as it has already been said, these are always used in conjunction with other tests because it is also possible that a person has got his/her ESR levels normal but is still suffering from a disease. Doctors don’t base their results solely on the ESR-test outcomes.
There are drugs like dextran, penicillamine, theophylline, vitamin A etc. which can increase ESR and there are drugs like aspirin, cortisone and quinine which lower ESR levels.Category: Health