Your Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)

What Causes Elevated Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate?

Elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, we could:
  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate" as a symptom.  Here are two possibilities:
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Ulcerative Colitis

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
weak appetite
recent onset diarrhea
unilateral hip pain
regular episodes of diarrhea
history of occult blood
joint pain/swelling/stiffness
having loose stools
frequent meal-related bloating
unilateral shoulder pain
moderate left iliac pain
severe fatigue after slight exertion
occasional mucus in stools
... and more than 10 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate:
Cause Probability Status
Ulcerative Colitis 91% Confirm
Polymyalgia Rheumatica 60% Possible
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having had recent lab tests, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) or Red Blood Cell Sedimentation Rate. Unit: mm/h
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ 0 to 15 (normal)
→ 16 to 25
→ 26 to 40
→ Over 40
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate normal ESR, elevated ESR or high ESR, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as: