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Family Physician
Family Physician, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 12816
Experience:  Emergency Medicine and Family Practice for over 26 years
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Is a sed rate of 38 for a 20-year-old female abnormal enough

Resolved Question:

Is a sed rate of 38 for a 20-year-old female abnormal enough for further investigation?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Family Physician replied 11 years ago.
The normal sed rate is less than 20. An elevated sed rate can come from any number of conditions which cause inflammation including infection or autoimmune conditions such as arthritis or lupus.

The test is VERY non-specific and by itself a elevated sed rate has very little diagnostic use.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Family Physician's Post: I have been able to find plenty of information about what a normal sed rate is and what an abnormal sed rate may be an indication of. What I am really looking for, though, is how high is too high... Should I be concerned that my doctor is "disregarding" a sed rate of 38 as being "marginally abnormal"?
Expert:  Family Physician replied 11 years ago.
That really depends on so many things. Is she having some symptoms? Has this been repeated? Why was the sed rate done in the first place?
Expert:  Family Physician replied 11 years ago.
That really depends on so many things. Is she having some symptoms? Has this been repeated? Why was the sed rate done in the first place?
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Family Physician's Post: I have been experiencing nausea/vomiting and intense fatigue for a few months now and after going through many other tests (I have had 8 blood tests—including looking for h pylori, thyroid levels, and all the normal blood workup, a urine test—looking at liver function, a stool test—looking for giardia, an ultra sound of my abdomen, an upper gi endoscopy, a gastric emptying study, and a brain scan), we did a sedimentation rate. My sed rate was 38. My doctor was out of town when it was done and the results were sent to another doctor at my clinic. That doctor called and told me that my sed rate was abnormal. However, my doctor got back in town and today told me that the sed rate is only marginally abnormal and not high enough for that to give us any information. How high of a sed rate gives the physician a cause to look more closely for the cause?
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Family Physician's Post: I have been experiencing nausea/vomiting and intense fatigue for a few months now and after going through many other tests (I have had 8 blood tests—including looking for h pylori, thyroid levels, and all the normal blood workup, a urine test—looking at liver function, a stool test—looking for giardia, an ultra sound of my abdomen, an upper gi endoscopy, a gastric emptying study, and a brain scan), we did a sedimentation rate. My sed rate was 38. My doctor was out of town when it was done and the results were sent to another doctor at my clinic. That doctor called and told me that my sed rate was abnormal. However, my doctor got back in town and today told me that the sed rate is only marginally abnormal and not high enough for that to give us any information. How high of a sed rate gives the physician a cause to look more closely for the cause?
Expert:  Family Physician replied 11 years ago.
Pardon the delay...I was having connection problems (SLOW)

Personally, I would repeat the sed rate - before I would get excited. Even a minor infection can cause the sed rate to go up into the range of your abnormal.

Here is a nice article which addresses some of this for you
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=9590999&query_hl=16&itool=pubmed_docsum

I usually use a sed rate more of a monitor - to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment in patients with known inflammatory conditions. So many things can cause it to be mildly elevated, then it has little significance unless it is very high (60-100 range)
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