Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
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Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) Test, also known as sedimentation rate test or sed rate test is a blood test that can detect inflammatory activity in the body. ESR test doesn't diagnose one specific condition. Instead, it helps to diagnose or monitor the progress of an inflammatory disease. Erythrocytes are a synonym for red blood cells. Erythrocytes have peculiar properties in terms of size, thickness and shape. When blood is added to a test tube, red blood cells (erythrocytes) drop to the bottom of this tall, thin tube. ESR test means a measure of how quickly erythrocytes settle at the bottom of a test tube. Red blood cells settle at a lower rate under normal conditions. A higher-than-normal rate could suggest that the body is fighting an inflammatory process. The inflammatory reaction is a natural response of the immune system. Illness, infection or accident can be the cause of this inflammatory response. Inflammation can be due to the presence of a long-standing disease, an immunological disorder or other medical illness. Erythrocytes (red blood cells) might clump together because of an inflammatory response. In an inflammatory process, red blood cells become dense and thick. So, erythrocytes settle to the bottom more quickly than other blood cells because they are dense. ESR results do not diagnose any diseases, but they can confirm the presence of inflammatory reactions in the body. ESR is used for the diagnosis of inflammatory problems. The ESR test may help determine the cause of unexplained fever, arthritis, vasculitis and IBS. ESR reports help to monitor an existing medical condition. ESR helps doctors to monitor the progress of inflammatory diseases. With ESR values, doctors can also track how a medication is working in treating a particular disease. The ESR test isn’t a stand-alone diagnostic tool. ESR is used for the diagnosis of an inflammatory response. Because an ESR test can’t diagnose the underlying cause of inflammatory response, other blood tests, such as the C-reactive protein (CRP) test, are often used in conjunction with it. If ESR results are abnormal, doctors will need more diagnostic tests. In such a situation, doctors may likely ask for more lab tests before reaching a final diagnosis. ESR results are slightly higher in women than in men. Women during pregnancy and menstruation have slightly higher ESR. Old age is correlated with ESR levels. People above fifty have higher ESR than those below fifty years
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