The test for ESR, short for erythrocyte sedimentation rate, measures the sedimentation rate of red blood cells. ESR reacts to different disease conditions and increases slowly over several days. In inflammatory conditions, proteins emerge in the blood that make red blood cells stick to each other. In a laboratory tube, the bound red blood cells sediment.
When should ESR be measured?
The ESR value is tested in the diagnostics and follow-up of chronic and unclear inflammatory diseases and in connection with the following symptoms, for example:
- Follow-up of rheumatic diseases
- Pain in the eye
- Decrease in general health
- Loss of strength
- Weight loss
- Pain in the temple
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
- Night sweats
What does an ESR test measure?
ESR measures the sedimentation rate of red blood cells in a test tube. ESR is a non-specific test that is often used for measuring the activity of various diseases. In connection with some diseases, red blood cells sediment faster in a blood sample. This is caused by an increase of proteins in the blood. ESR can be elevated in long-term tissue damage, and in inflammatory, connective tissue, oncological, and liver diseases.
How to interpret the ESR test result?
Normally, the result is:
- Men (under 50 years): < 15 mm/h
- Women (under 20 years): < 20 mm/h
- Men (50–85 years): < 20 mm/h
- Women (50–85 years): < 30 mm/h
- Men (over 85 years): < 30 mm/h
- Women (over 85 years): < 42 mm/h
A slightly elevated ESR level does not necessarily indicate a disease requiring treatment. In connection with inflammatory diseases, ESR returns to normal only several weeks after recuperation, and therefore ESR is not suited for assessing treatment success. C-reactive protein, or CRP, is a test that reacts faster in inflammatory conditions. Women have slightly higher ESR values than men.
The reference values of this examination have changed 11.10.2021. You will find your own result's reference values from My LOUNA in touch with the graph. Read more about defining reference values.
Please contact your physician or other healthcare professional if you suspect an illness or need help interpreting the results.
What can cause elevated levels in the ESR?
Red blood cells affect ESR, and in some diseases of the blood, the ESR level can be normal even though the patient simultaneously has an active inflammatory disease in their body. Elevated values are seen, for example, in connection with:
- Chronic inflammatory diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis)
- Anaemia (size, shape, and amount of red blood cells)
- Excess weight
- Tissue diseases
- Tissue damage
- Malignant tumours
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Diseases of the liver
In connection with liver failure, if “acute-phase” proteins are not synthesised sufficiently, ESR values can remain low. Acute-phase proteins are proteins whose amount increases in connection with inflammation.
The most typical additional ESR tests:
- C-reactive protein indicates sudden and bacterial infections (8022 S-hsCRP)
SYNLAB test list: ESR (2203 B-La) https://www.yml.fi/tuotekuvaus_show.php?tuotenro=565
Terveyskirjasto health library: Lasko (B-La) https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/terveyskirjasto/tk.koti?p_artikkeli=snk03051&p_hakusana=lasko
Terveyskirjasto health library: Senkan tarina https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/terveyskirjasto/tk.koti?p_artikkeli=snk03020&p_hakusana=lasko
Fasting is not required
This examination does not require fasting