An Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate Test or ESR is a kind of blood test that helps to know the cause behind the inflammation in a human body. It measures how fast erythrocytes -red blood cells settle down at the bottom of a test tube in which the blood sample is collected. Generally, the red blood cells do not settle fast, but if it settles fast compared to a normal one then it clearly shows inflammation in that person’s body.
Though this test is not for diagnosing pre-existing infections or any other specific disease. The ESR test helps other tests to find out the reasons for inflammation. Inflammation can be caused by many reasons like it can be an allergy, an infection, or an injury. Sometimes it can be because of developing chronic disease in your body or maybe some other health issue.
ESR test helps in monitoring inflammations in the human body.
Why do you need to go for the ESR test?
When you have inflammation in your body, the red blood cells or the RBCs stick together. This clinging would result in affecting the rate at which the red blood cells sink in the test tube in which the blood was ejected.
Thus, this test would let your medical expert know the amount of clumping occurring in your blood. The rate at which the RBCs settle at the bottom of the test tube indicates the inflammation presence. The faster the sinking the more chances of inflammation.
Though the ESR test helps in identifying the inflammation in your body it would diagnose the actual reason for inflammation occurring. This is the reason, why the ESR test is coupled with several other tests. When ESR identifies the inflammation, other tests would pinpoint the reason of that inflammation.
What does ESR Blood Test Checks?
ESR blood test is done to check the inflammation in a person’s body, examples of body inflammation include
Rheumatoid Arthritis- a condition in which a person feels inflammation in his/her joints.
Another is Lupus- A type of inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, also referred to as systemic lupus Erythematosus.
A doctor can also write this test if a patient has:
• Muscle or tissue problems like polymyalgia rheumatica
What is the process of an ESR test?
It is the same as a usual process of taking a blood sample, A medical health care professional will take a blood sample with a small needle which will be taken from your vein preferably from the back of the hand or close to the elbow. Then it will be put in a test tube and send in the laboratory for testing by medical professionals. If a patient has cancer, more blood would be ejected for testing purposes. Usually, this process takes 5-10 minutes.
Do we need to take care of certain things before undergoing a test?
Yes, consult your doctors before going through this test because some medicines can create problems in getting true results.
Following are the medicines which can manipulate the test results:
Androgens like Testosterone and Estrogens, Phenothiazines, Valproic acid, Divalproex sodium, Methadone, Phenytoin, Prednisone, Heroin, and, Aspirin -if consumption is too much. If you are using these medicines, you should stop taking it before the ESR test or better talk to your physician about it.
What are the symptoms and when to go for an ESR Test?
When you start experiencing symptoms that indicate inflammatory conditions like IBD- Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Arthritis. Symptoms can be any of the following:
- Pain in Joints usually in the morning time
- Body stiffness that remains more than an hour.
- You may experience a headache with other body pain.
- sharp or mild pain in shoulders, pelvis, or neck.
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Some people experience diarrhea, blood in the stool, or fever sometimes.
How the ESR test is performed?
This test involves a simple blood draw. It should take only a minute or two.
The ESR test is a simple test in which blood is drawn out from your vein. It just takes a minute or two in carrying out a test.
• At first, your vein is identified and skin is cleansed with a chemical liquid.
• Secondly, a needle is put in the vein to collect blood.
• Lastly, the need is taken out and the punctured vein is covered with a cotton ball to stop further bleeding.
The blood sample is sent to the lab and is transferred to a long test tube. This tube is kept for rest for an hour or longer. After completion of 1 hour, the laboratory professional carries out the test to see if the RBCs have settled down at the bottom or have sunk even a bit. This helps them know the inflammation.
The risk associated with an ESR test
ESR test is like a normal blood test it doesn’t have any associated high risk, it involves taking out your blood with a needle from a blood vein. Some minor risk which people might experience are:
- People who are excessively weak faint when a little blood takes out from their body.
- Bleeding: Very light bleeding
- Bruises to the area needle were pricked
- Vein Inflammation
- Little pain when blood is taken out with a needle pricking in your skin.
- Throbbing at the area where needle inserted
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