Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can anemia cause abnormal ESR results?"
I'm a 28 year old lady and I have an anemia. Is this what's throwing off my ESR results?
An ESR (which stands for erythrocyte sedimentation rate) is a test done to look for inflammation that is occurring somewhere in the body. It is generally higher in women at baseline, and can be elevated in states where inflammation is not the cause such as pregnancy, and increases with age. ESR is only mildly affected by anemia. Thus if your ESR is only slightly elevated, this could be the cause. Other common causes of an ESR elevation include rheumatoid arthritis, infection, certain cancers, and a disease called temporal arteritis. If you are having symptoms such as low grade fever or joint pain, then you definitely need a full work up for causes of an elevated ESR. Since ESR is not a test that diagnoses you with anything specific, you should start by seeing your primary care physician. He or she will be able to look at your ESR in the context of your other diagnoses, your age, and your sex. If your ESR is elevated beyond what it is expected to be, then your doctor will likely want to send some basic lab tests to look for the common causes of ESR elevation such as rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, you need to have your anemia worked up and treated if necessary. Good luck.
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