Reasons for a high ESR level


What is an ESR test?

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) determines whether or not you have inflammation in your body. It is a blood test where a sample is put in a tall, thin test tube by a medical practitioner. They gauge the rate at which the red blood cells reach the bottom of the tube.

Red blood cells (erythrocytes) typically sink gradually. However, red blood cells can clump together as a result of inflammation. Since these clusters are larger than individual cells, they sink more quickly. An inflammatory medical issue may be present if an ESR test reveals that your red blood cells are sinking more quickly than usual. Your level of inflammation is indicated by how quickly the cells sink.

Higher levels of inflammation correspond to faster ESR rates. However, a simple ESR test cannot identify the underlying cause of the inflammation.

Why Is It Done?

If you have already received a diagnosis of a condition that raises the ESR levels, your doctor can order this test and use the results to evaluate whether or not you are responding to the treatment. The ESR blood test particularly helps identify or monitor disorders that result in inflammation-related discomfort. If you exhibit symptoms of an inflammatory disorder, your doctor might ask you to get an ESR.

Depending on your illness, you might suffer from one or more of the following:

  • Headache
  • Unusual fever
  • Weight loss
  • Joint rigidity
  • Shoulder or neck ache
  • Reduced appetite
  • Anaemia

What Are the Normal ESR Levels?

High blood protein levels lead to quicker RBC clumping and raise ESR levels. The ESR test determines the distance in millimetres (mm) between your red blood cells and the transparent fluid (plasma) at the top of the tube after one hour.

Listed below are the normal ESR values according to the Westergreen method (mm/hr stands for millimetres per hour).

For adults:

  • Among men under the age of 50, 0 to 15 mm/hour
  • In males over 50, 0 to 20 mm/hour.
  • Among women under the age of 50, 0 to 20 mm/hour
  • For women over the age of 50, 0 to 30 mm/hour.

For kids:

  • 0 to 2 mm/hr for newborns
  • 3 to 13 mm/hr from infancy until puberty

What Do Abnormal ESR Results Mean?

Your immune system defends the body from hazardous substances. If the immune system unintentionally targets and kills healthy bodily tissue, it is known as an autoimmune illness. People with autoimmune disorders have higher ESR levels than ESR test normal ranges.

However, high ESR does not always indicate a specific illness. It only points to probable inflammation in your body and suggests that more checkups are necessary. If your ESR test results are abnormal, trying to keep your worries in check is crucial. Identify the source of your symptoms by working with your doctor. They will often schedule further testing if your ESR readings are abnormally high or low.

ESR Increase Causes

When your body contracts a disease or becomes contaminated, the immune system starts attacking the infection, enabling the RBCs to cluster together as they grow. Thus, high levels of ESR mean your body is presently fighting an illness. Here are some high ESR causes:

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

It is a kind of arthritis that affects your joints and results in stiffness, swelling, pain, and loss of function. Although it may impact any joint, it frequently affects the wrist and fingers.

Autoimmune Disease:

Your immune system defends you against sickness and infection by fighting off enemies like viruses and bacteria. Your immune system eliminates the germs because it recognizes that they are not a part of you. Your immune system mistakenly assaults the good cells of tissues and organs if you have an autoimmune illness.

Inflammatory Conditions:

Systemic inflammatory infections are diseases that spread to the blood and can infect your heart, bones, skin, lungs, and other organs.

Tissue Injury:

The body's natural tendency to repair and restore injured tissue may increase ESR following any type of tissue injury, including surgery, fractures, or burns. Tissue damage or ischemia means loss of blood flow to tissues can result in high ESR.

Other Reasons:

Traumatic incidents or accidents, and certain cancers, such as leukaemia, myeloma, lymphoma, etc. Atherosclerosis, excessive blood pressure, other vascular disorders, and Obesity can also cause high ESR levels.

What Should You Do If Your ESR Levels Are High?

High ESR levels alone are insufficient to detect an inflammatory disease; a doctor's diagnosis is also required. It is crucial to provide your doctor with precise details regarding your past health conditions and any medications you are taking because some supplements might alter your ESR levels.


Many illnesses can cause high ESR levels. Most of them are inflammatory illnesses, which intensify the immune system's reaction and cause high ESR symptoms. A medical professional can suggest an ESR blood test if they think your body is undergoing significant amounts of inflammation. It examines how rapidly red blood cells could sink to the bottom of test tubes; indicating ESR levels are high which means significant inflammation.