"ESR is an indirect measure of the degree of inflammation present in the body. It measures the rate of fall (sedimentation) of erythrocytes (red blood cells) in a tall, thin tube of blood.
Results are reported as how many millimetres of clear plasma are present at the top of the column after one hour. Normally, red cells fall slowly, leaving little clear plasma.
Increased blood levels of certain proteins (such as fibrinogen or immunoglobulins, which are increased in inflammation) cause the red blood cells to fall more rapidly, increasing the ESR.
You should be able to eat and drink normally unless also getting other tests that require fasting beforehand. Tell your doctor about any medicines you take because some drugs might affect the test results.
It can help to wear a T shirt or other short-sleeve top on the day of the test to make things faster and easier for the technician who will be drawing the blood.
Most blood tests take a small amount of blood from a vein. To do that, a health professional will:
- clean the skin
- put an elastic band (tourniquet) above the area to get the veins to swell with blood
- insert a needle into a vein (usually in the arm inside of the elbow or on the back of the hand)
- pull the blood sample into a vial or syringe
- take off the elastic band and remove the needle from the vein
It's best to try to relax and stay still during the procedure because tensing muscles can make it harder and more painful to draw blood. And if you don't want to watch the needle being inserted or see the blood collecting, you don't have to. Look the other way and maybe relax by focusing on saying the alphabet backward, doing some breathing exercises, thinking of a place that makes you happy, or listening to your favorite music.
The health professional will remove the elastic band and the needle and cover the area with cotton or a bandage to stop the bleeding. Afterward, there may be some mild bruising, which should go away in a few days.
Most blood tests take just a few minutes. Occasionally, it can be hard to find a vein, so the health professional may need to try more than once.
Report delivery time
Blood samples are processed by a machine, and it may take a few hours to a day for the results to be available. If the test results show signs of a problem, the doctor might order other tests to figure out what the problem is and how to treat it.
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