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Elevated ESR: what does it mean?

The formal name for an ESR test is Erythrocyte sedimentation rate. This is a general test that has been used for many years to assist in the diagnosis of a number of inflammatory medical conditions. Often used in conjunction with other tests, it is highly regarded as a base test for diagnosis of temporal arteritis, autoimmune disorders, and polymyalfia rheumatica. So if you have an elevated ESR, what does it mean?

Elevated Esr

Doctors will usually request an ESR test along with other tests when patients have symptoms that include: anemia, unexplained or sudden weight loss, recurring headaches, stiffness of the joints, neck or shoulder pain and pain in the pelvic area. While these symptoms can include a number of disorders, the ESR is used as a guideline to begin the diagnosis process. An ESR test measures the inflammation in the body. Used along with and other tests, a single ESR test may not be sufficient for a diagnosis. Multiple ESR tests over longer periods of time may be needed to get a more specific result.

Moderately elevated ESR test results are not necessarily indicative of a problem. They are often found in both anemic and pregnant patients. In addition, the results may be elevated due to a light infection and are even found in patients of advancing age. Normal results are dependent upon the patients age and gender.

Highly elevated ESR usually indicates a problem due to a more severe infection. Since the ESRis a general test rating how red cells settle in unclotted blood, the ESR is used as a gauge to order more specific tests. High elevation of the ESR test results can relate to a number of disorder paths including: anemia, kidney disease, thyroid disease, rheumatic fever, syphilis, lupus, multiple myelomia, and the list goes on.

Before you break out in absolute fear, make sure that you understand the ESR test is just a beginning. Since it tests the level of systemic infection, your medical advisor will use the results of other tests to rule out the obvious. If you are female, it might also be noted that women usually have higher ESR elevations. An ESR elevation can also be caused by the common cold so don’t go jumping to conclusions or trying to self-diagnose.

ESR results can also be skewed or inaccurate. Since the test measures the inflammation of the body, the circumstances of the elevate ESR results may be temporary. They may also include specific circumstances that cause an elevate ESR level. These situations could be: percarditis, thyroiditis and endometritis. Additional lab tests can rule these situations out and allow the physician to narrow down the possibilities.

A patient that has experienced unexplained symptoms will want to work with your medical provider to ensure that a full battery of blood tests have been accomplished. You will want to get a complete diagnosis for your symptoms. The ESR test is a preliminary starting point to judge if there is any inflammation of the body.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

One Response to “Elevated ESR: what does it mean?”

  1. 1
    Patrick Says:
    If tests are done and elevated levels of ESR are found, then what does this really mean? The article mentions that there are many possible reasons for this. What then, is really the benefit of taking such a test?