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11/28/2008 04:38 PM

What The Sedimentation Rate (Blood Test) Is?


The Sedimentation Rate (Blood Test)

The sedimentation rate (sed rate) blood test measures how quickly red blood cells (erythrocytes) settle in a test tube in one hour. When inflammation is present in the body, certain proteins cause red blood cells to stick together and fall more quickly than normal to the bottom of the tube. The more red cells that fall to the bottom of a special test tube in one hour, the higher the sed rate. These proteins are produced by the liver and the immune system under many abnormal conditions, such as an infection, an autoimmune disease, or cancer. There are many possible causes of an elevated sedimentation rate. For this reason, a sed rate is done with other tests to confirm a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made, a sed rate can be done to help monitor the course of the disease or the effectiveness of treatment.

A sedimentation rate (sed rate) test is done to:

Determine whether a condition causing inflammation is present. Monitor the response to treatment of some conditions, such as an infection or some autoimmune diseases.

No special preparation is needed before having this test. The health professional drawing blood will: Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein. Clean the needle site with alcohol. Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed. Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood. Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected. Apply a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed. Apply pressure to the site and then a bandage.

You may feel nothing at all from the needle puncture, or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes through the skin. Some people feel a stinging pain while the needle is in the vein. However, many people do not feel any pain (or have only minor discomfort) once the needle is positioned in the vein. The amount of pain you feel depends on the skill of the person drawing the blood, the condition of your veins, and your sensitivity to pain.

There is very little risk of complications from having blood from a vein. You may develop a small bruise at the puncture site. You can reduce the risk of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes after the needle is withdrawn. Rarely, the vein may become inflamed after the blood sample is taken. This condition is called phlebitis and is usually treated with a warm compress applied several times daily. Continued bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medications can also make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medication, tell your health professional before your blood is drawn.

The sedimentation rate (sed rate) blood test measures how quickly red blood cells (erythrocytes) settle in a test tube.

Normal values may vary from lab to lab.

Sedimentation rate Males younger than 50:

0–15 millimeters per hour (mm/hr)

Males 50 and older:

0–20 mm/hr

Females younger than 50:

0–25 mm/hr

Females 50 and older:

0–30 mm/hr

A high sedimentation rate (sed rate) may indicate inflammation caused by an infection. Infections may include:


Pelvic inflammatory disease.


Kidney, bone, joint, skin, or heart valve infections.

A high sed rate may also indicate some types of cancer

(especially lymphoma or multiple myeloma), an

autoimmune disease (such as systemic lupus

erythematosus), certain inflammatory diseases (such as

rheumatoid arthritis or polymyalgia rheumatica) or other medical conditions (such as chronic kidney failure, toxemia

of pregnancy, or thyroid disease).

An extremely high sed rate (greater than 100 mm/hr) is

often found in some severe infections (such as osteomyelitis or endocarditis), certain inflammatory diseases (such as

temporal arteritis), and certain types of cancer (such as

multiple myeloma or lymphoma).

Low values may be present in sickle cell anemia or

polycythemia. A low value may also occur with an increased

blood sugar level.

Factors that can interfere with your test and the

accuracy of the results include:



If you are having your menstrual period.

Age. Sed rates normally increase with age.

Medications, such as corticosteroids, nonsteroidal

anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), heparin, birth control pills,

procainamide, theophylline, vitamin A, aspirin, quinine,

methotrexate, tamoxifen, some antibiotics, and some


The sedimentation rate (sed rate) cannot be used by

itself to diagnose any specific disease. Results of a sed

rate test should be evaluated along with your symptoms,

other test results, and medical information. Some diseases

that cause inflammation do not increase the sed rate, so a

normal sed rate does not always rule out a disease.

However, certain conditions, such as temporal arteritis,

almost always cause an elevated sed rate.

Some health professionals are using the C-reactive

protein (CRP) blood test to help diagnose certain

inflammatory conditions. For more information, see the

medical test C-Reactive Protein. CRP may be elevated when

a severe infection or inflammatory condition is changing rapidly.


07/20/2009 09:13 AM
Posts: 2
New Member

Hi there,

I am a 25 year old female, and I just got blood test results that contained an elevated sedimentation rate. It is 44. I was also tested for Lyme disease, which came back negative. My doc wants to do additional tests but wants to wait about 5-6 weeks before I have them done. I have no symptoms of any pain, other than some occasional pain in my right knee from breaking my patella (knee cap) last year and the associated recovery from that. I am driving myself mad looking at all these diseases I could possibly have - autoimmune diseases and cancers! Ahh!! I was wondering if a sed rate of 44 could be caused by the pill (I'm on Yasmin) or the fact that I had the blood test about a week before I got my period. You mention that your period can affect the results, as can the pill. Can your sed rate be elevated for little to no reason? Mine is not extremely high, but it is twice what is normal for my age and I am worried! Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you!

07/20/2009 09:56 AM
Posts: 1601
VIP Member

Hello serenity, welcome to our group. This group has wonderfull people and they are always ready to offer help and suport.

I'm glad to hear your not having alot of pain but I'm curious as to why you had to have blood work done. I don't know what causes your rate to be high but I'm sure someone here will be able to help you out. I just wanted to welcome you and say please don't worry too much prematurely.


07/20/2009 11:06 AM
Posts: 2
New Member

Thanks for the welcome. I had the blood tests done to test for Lyme; I had a suspicious insect bite and the doctor wanted to check it out. As for the sed rate, I was not feeling well the spring of last year - mildly fatigued and sluggish - so the doc ordered a couple blood tests to rule out anemia, thyroid issues, etc. My sed rate then was slightly elevated (31) and my doc asked if I'd been experiencing any pain, particularly dental pain. I had been ignoring a toothache, and it turns out the root was infected and I needed a root canal. Sed rate went back to normal (24) post-root canal and I felt much better! Now it is elevated again for some reason and 44 is more of a concern than 31.

Unfortunately, I am already worried prematurely because that is what happens when a test indicates that something could be wrong with you but they have no idea what it is, and won't have any ideas for another month or so! If anyone has had any similar test results to mine, I'd appreciate hearing what their experiences were.

07/20/2009 03:34 PM
Posts: 1601
VIP Member

Thanks for the details, I wish I could help but I have not experience with this. I hope someone jumps in soon to help.


12/28/2013 08:56 AM
Posts: 2
New Member


I am a 48 year old female who has had CLL for the past 5 years. I recently went thru 6 rounds of chemo and it worked miracles in my body. However, on Christmas Eve day, I started having severe abdominal and back cramps, along with rectal bleeding. i went to the dr. and got alot of blood drawn & it came back normal, but with a high level of sedimentation.

I also gave a stool sample but won't know results of this for a few days.

The cramps are bad and bleeding hasn't stopped - it's not alot of blood, but enough to have me worried.

They are scheduling me for a colonoscopy next week.

Any thoughts on what this could be?


12/28/2013 12:14 PM
Posts: 1023

Sedimentation rate in general is thought to represent inflammation. What it means in this context, I don't know. Perhaps Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?

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