What does low hematocrit count mean: Hematocrit and Hemoglobin
Low Red Blood Cell Counts
- What is anemia?
- What causes anemia?
- Symptoms of anemia
- Tests for causes of anemia
- Problems anemia can cause
- Treatments for anemia
- Managing anemia at home
What is anemia?
When you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells, you have a condition called anemia. This means your blood has lower than normal hemoglobin (Hgb) levels. Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell (RBC) that carries oxygen to all the cells in your body. Anemia is a common side effect in patients with cancer.
What causes anemia?
There are many different reasons a person with cancer might have anemia. Some common causes are:
- The cancer itself
- Cancer treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy
- Blood loss (this can be bleeding from a tumor, bleeding from cancer cells getting into blood vessels, or bleeding caused by other conditions like heavy menstruation or bleeding from a stomach ulcer)
- Missing certain vitamins or minerals in the diet because of not eating enough
- Low iron levels in blood
- Major organ problems (including severe heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease)
- Red blood cells (RBCs) being destroyed by the body before they’re replaced
- The body making fewer RBCs
- Having chronic kidney disease
- Having conditions like sickle cell disease or thalassemia (inherited disorders of red blood cells)
- A combination of any of these factors
Some risk factors may make a person with cancer more likely to have anemia. These include:
- Certain chemotherapy drugs such as platinum-based chemotherapy (this is a certain group of chemo drugs)
- Certain tumor types (such as lung or ovary tumors)
- Having a low hemoglobin level before you had cancer
Symptoms of anemia
Anemia often starts slowly, so you may not notice symptoms at first. As your hemoglobin level gets lower you may have one or more of these symptoms:
- Fast heartbeat
- Fast breathing rate
- Shortness of breath (trouble breathing)
- Trouble breathing when doing things like walking, climbing stairs, or even talking (exerting yourself)
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Chest pain
- Swelling in the hands and/or feet
- Color of skin, nail beds, mouth, and gums looking more pale than usual
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
Anemia can range from mild to life-threatening, depending on your hemoglobin level and the symptoms you are experiencing. Some of these symptoms are more serious than others. Your doctor will explain your hemoglobin level and the severity of your anemia.
If you have any of these symptoms, tell your doctor or nurse right away. If you can’t reach your cancer care team right away, you may need to get immediate care at an emergency room.
Let your cancer care team know if you have any other medical problems such as heart or lung disease, as this may make your symptoms from anemia worse. It’s important to watch for anemia and its symptoms throughout your treatment. Tell your cancer care team if you’re having any of the symptoms described here. Be sure to mention how the symptoms affect your day-to-day life. Doing so will help you get the treatment you need when you need it.
Tests for causes of anemia
A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test that measures your hemoglobin level and other characteristics of your red blood cells (such as their size). This test not only shows if you have anemia, but it can also help your doctor figure out what might be causing it.
You might also need other tests to help to find what is causing it. These could include:
- Blood chemistry tests to check organ function and levels of vitamins and minerals
- A blood test called a reticulocyte count (Reticulocytes are very young red blood cells just released from the bone marrow, so this test shows how many new red cells your body is making.)
- A bone marrow exam to make sure your bone marrow is working as it should
- Blood tests to look at your iron, vitamin B12, and folate levels
- A test of your stool (feces) to check for blood (called a fecal occult blood test or FOBT)
Your doctor or nurse can use the results of these tests, along with your medical information and a physical exam, to get an idea of what might be causing your anemia. Sometimes no cause can be found other than “anemia of chronic disease.” This type of anemia is often found in people with long-lasting problems like congestive heart failure, inflammatory diseases, or cancer.
Problems anemia can cause
The first thing the doctor needs to know is how severe your anemia is. Anemia can affect your quality of life and has been found to shorten survival in people with cancer. It can make you feel very tired because cells in your body can’t get enough oxygen. In some cases, this lack of oxygen may be bad enough to threaten your life. Anemia can also make your heart work harder. So if you already have a heart problem, anemia can make it worse. Anemia can also make it hard for you to breath normally, making it challenging to do your usual activities.
Severe anemia may mean you have to delay your cancer treatment or have your treatment dose reduced. It can also cause some cancer treatments to not work as well as they should.
Your cancer care team may try to figure out your risk of serious problems from the anemia based on any symptoms you are having and your hemoglobin level. If you’re not having symptoms, they will try to figure out how likely you are to have them in the near future. This will be based on a number of things, including:
- Your hemoglobin level and other lab results
- The type of cancer treatments you’ve had in the past
- The chances that any treatments you’re now getting could make the anemia worse
- Whether you have lung, heart, or blood vessel (circulation) problems
- Your age
If you don’t seem to be at risk for problems from anemia, your cancer care team will watch your hemoglobin level closely and ask about symptoms each time you visit the office.
Treatments for anemia
Anemia in cancer patients is usually treated based on the cause. Sometimes, treatment of anemia delays cancer treatment until your red blood cells recover. There are 2 main goals in treating anemia:
- Treat the cause of the anemia
- Raise the hemoglobin level so that symptoms get better
The most common treatments of anemia in patients with cancer include:
- Iron therapy
- Red blood cell transfusion, commonly known as blood transfusion
- Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs)
- Other drugs
Your doctor will look at your test results, symptoms, how long you’ve been having the symptoms, the cancer type, cancer treatment, and other factors. Talk to your cancer care team about what treatment is right for you. As with any medical problem, the expected benefits of treatment should always outweigh the possible risks.
If your iron levels are low, your doctor may supplement them with iron pills or iron given through your veins (iron infusion). Iron infusions carry a risk of allergic reaction. Your doctor will discuss with you what form of iron would be best for your situation. Your doctor may also ask you to try to eat more iron-rich foods. There are two types of iron in food: heme and non-heme.
Heme iron is found in animal products. Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron. Examples of foods that contain heme iron are:
- Red meat
- Fatty fish
- Chicken and turkey
Non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods. Examples of foods that contain high amounts of non-heme iron include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens, or chard
- Beans and lentils
- Fortified cereals
- Dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, and peaches
- Enriched pasta and rice.
Non-heme iron is best absorbed by the body when eaten at the same time as fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C. Examples of foods high in vitamin C include
- Citrus fruits
- Dark green leafy vegetables
Blood transfusions to treat anemia
A blood cell transfusion is a safe and a common way to treat anemia in people with cancer. It can help the patient feel better and helps oxygen get to vital organs. While blood transfusions can help symptoms very quickly, sometimes the relief is temporary depending on the cause of anemia.
Whether a blood transfusion might be needed depends on how severe your symptoms are and your hemoglobin level. A transfusion might be done if your hemoglobin level reaches a certain number or if your symptoms get too bothersome
A blood transfusion requires careful matching of donated blood to the recipient’s blood. Blood products are tested to be sure they are safe and the same kind of blood type as the recipient. But, receiving a blood transfusion also has some risks
- Transfusion reaction: This happens when the patient’s immune system attacks proteins on the foreign blood cells. This often looks like an allergic reaction. Most of these reactions are minor and can be treated, but sometimes they can be more serious.
- Transfusion-related lung injury: This is one of the more serious risks. It can cause trouble breathing and require treatment in the hospital.
- Getting exposed to certain germs, such as the hepatitis B or C virus: The careful blood testing and screening that’s used today has greatly decreased the risk of infections.
- Transfusion-related circulatory overload (TACO): This can happen if blood is given too quickly for the heart to handle it.
- Iron overload: People who get many blood transfusions may end up with too much iron, which would then need to be treated.
Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs)
Another way to treat anemia in some patients is to use drugs that tell the body to make more red blood cells. ESAs work like a hormone (called erythropoietin) made by the kidneys to help the body make its own new red blood cells. If one of these drugs is recommended, your health care provider will talk to you about the risks and the benefits of the drug. These drugs can cause very serious side effects. Still, they can help patients getting chemotherapy have higher hemoglobin levels and need fewer blood transfusions. This may result in a gradual improvement of anemia-related symptoms.
ESAs are given as shots under the skin, and how long they take before they start working may be different for different patients. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of the ESA you will be receiving. .
Other drugs to treat anemia
Depending on the type of anemia you have, the anemia may also be treated with vitamin B12 or folic acid supplementation.
Talk to your doctor about what kind of anemia you have, the recommended treatment, and the risks and benefits of the treatment.
Managing anemia at home
What to look for
- New or worsening tiredness that makes it harder to do your regular activities
- Chest pain or shortness of breath when you’re active
- Skin, nail beds, or gums that are more pale than usual
- Bright red, dark red, or black stool
- Dark brown or bright red vomit
(The last 2 are signs of bleeding, which can be a cause of anemia.)
What the patient can do
- Balance rest and activities. Only do activities that you can tolerate
- Keep a log of your symptoms, what time they occur, and what makes them worse or better, and discuss with your health care provider at your appointment
- Tell your cancer team if you’re not able to get around as well as usual.
- Plan your important activities when you have the most energy.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes protein (such as fish, meat, eggs, cheese, milk, nuts, peas, and beans). Try to include iron-rich foods in your diet
- Drink 8 to 10 glasses (8 oz) of water a day, unless you are given other instructions by your cancer care team. It’s OK to drink other liquids instead of water – just not beer, wine, or other alcoholic drinks. Check with your doctor to see what a safe amount of liquids is for you.
What caregivers can do
- Schedule friends and family members to prepare meals, clean the house, do yard work, or run errands for the patient. You can use websites that help organize these things, or get someone else to look into this for you.
- Watch for confusion, faintness, or dizziness.
Call the cancer care team if the patient
- Has chest pains
- Has shortness of breath when resting
- Feels dizzy or faint
- Gets confused or can’t concentrate
- Has not been able to get out of bed for more than 24 hours
- Has blood in their stool
- Has dark brown or bright red vomit
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
American Red Cross. Iron-rich foods. Accessed at www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/health-and-wellness/iron-rich-foods on September 17, 2019.
Bohlius J, Bohlke K, Castelli R, Djulbegovic B, Lustberg MB, Martino M, Mountzios G, Peswani N, Porter L, Tanaka TN, Trifirò G, Yang H, Lazo-Langner A. Management of cancer-associated anemia with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents: ASCO/ASH Clinical Practice Guideline Update. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2019; 37(15):1336-1351.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Iron. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/vitamins-minerals/iron.html. Last reviewed December 3, 2018. Accessed December 7, 2020.
Choe JH, Crawford J. Hematologic Problems and Infections: Disorders of blood cell production in clinical oncology. In Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:515-517.
Gilreath JA, Stenehjem DD, Rodgers GM. Diagnosis and treatment of cancer-related anemia. American Journal of Hematology. 2014;89(2):203-212.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Hematopoietic growth factors. 2019. Version 2.2019. Accessed at https://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/growthfactors.pdf on September 17, 2019.
NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. 2019. Anemia. Accessed at https://medlineplus.gov/anemia.html on September 17, 2019.
Last Revised: February 1, 2020
American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.
How is Iron-Deficiency Anemia Diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnose iron-deficiency anemia based on your medical history, a physical exam, and the results from tests and procedures.
Once your doctor knows the cause and severity of the condition, he or she can create a treatment plan for you.
Mild to moderate iron-deficiency anemia may have no signs or symptoms. Thus, you may not know you have it unless your doctor discovers it from a screening test or while checking for other problems.
Primary care doctors often diagnose and treat iron-deficiency anemia. These doctors include pediatricians, family doctors, gynecologists/obstetricians, and internal medicine specialists.
A hematologist (a blood disease specialist), a gastroenterologist (a digestive system specialist), and other specialists also may help treat iron-deficiency anemia.
Your doctor will ask about your signs and symptoms and any past problems you’ve had with anemia or low iron. He or she also may ask about your diet and whether you’re taking any medicines.
If you’re a woman, your doctor may ask whether you might be pregnant.
Your doctor will do a physical exam to look for signs of iron-deficiency anemia. He or she may:
- Look at your skin, gums, and nail beds to see whether they’re pale
- Listen to your heart for rapid or irregular heartbeats
- Listen to your lungs for rapid or uneven breathing
- Feel your abdomen to check the size of your liver and spleen
- Do a pelvic and rectal exam to check for internal bleeding
Diagnostic Tests and Procedures
Many tests and procedures are used to diagnose iron-deficiency anemia. They can help confirm a diagnosis, look for a cause, and find out how severe the condition is.
COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT
Often, the first test used to diagnose anemia is a complete blood count (CBC). The CBC measures many parts of your blood.
This test checks your hemoglobin and hematocrit (hee-MAT-oh-crit) levels. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body. Hematocrit is a measure of how much space red blood cells take up in your blood. A low level of hemoglobin or hematocrit is a sign of anemia.
The normal range of these levels varies in certain racial and ethnic populations. Your doctor can explain your test results to you.
The CBC also checks the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in your blood. Abnormal results may be a sign of infection, a blood disorder, or another condition.
Finally, the CBC looks at mean corpuscular (kor-PUS-kyu-lar) volume (MCV). MCV is a measure of the average size of your red blood cells. The results may be a clue as to the cause of your anemia. In iron-deficiency anemia, for example, red blood cells usually are smaller than normal.
OTHER BLOOD TESTS
If the CBC results confirm you have anemia, you may need other blood tests to find out what’s causing the condition, how severe it is, and the best way to treat it.
Reticulocyte count. This test measures the number of reticulocytes (re-TIK-u-lo-sites) in your blood. Reticulocytes are young, immature red blood cells. Over time, reticulocytes become mature red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.
A reticulocyte count shows whether your bone marrow is making red blood cells at the correct rate.
Peripheral smear. For this test, a sample of your blood is examined under a microscope. If you have iron-deficiency anemia, your red blood cells will look smaller and paler than normal.
Tests to measure iron levels. These tests can show how much iron has been used from your body’s stored iron. Tests to measure iron levels include:
- Serum iron. This test measures the amount of iron in your blood. The level of iron in your blood may be normal even if the total amount of iron in your body is low. For this reason, other iron tests also are done.
- Serum ferritin. Ferritin is a protein that helps store iron in your body. A measure of this protein helps your doctor find out how much of your body’s stored iron has been used.
- Transferrin level, or total iron-binding capacity. Transferrin is a protein that carries iron in your blood. Total iron-binding capacity measures how much of the transferrin in your blood isn’t carrying iron. If you have iron-deficiency anemia, you’ll have a high level of transferrin that has no iron.
Other tests. Your doctor also may recommend tests to check your hormone levels, especially your thyroid hormone. You also may have a blood test for a chemical called erythrocyte protoporphyrin. This chemical is a building block for hemoglobin.
Children also may be tested for the level of lead in their blood. Lead can make it hard for the body to produce hemoglobin.
TESTS AND PROCEDURES FOR GASTROINTESTINAL BLOOD LOSS
To check whether internal bleeding is causing your iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may suggest a fecal occult blood test. This test looks for blood in the stools and can detect bleeding in the intestines.
If the test finds blood, you may have other tests and procedures to find the exact spot of the bleeding. These tests and procedures may look for bleeding in the stomach, upper intestines, colon, or pelvic organs.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.
“Hematocrit below normal – what does it mean in an adult?” — Yandex Q
In this article we consider what to do if the hematocrit is below normal, what does this mean in an adult?
Determination of the hematocrit value is included in the extended complete blood count. The criterion allows you to evaluate the work of the hematopoietic system. The functioning of other organs directly depends on its full functional activity, since it is erythrocytes that deliver oxygen to organs and tissues.
A decrease in hematocrit may occur without the manifestation of pronounced clinical symptoms. A person can attribute increased fatigue to high workload and lack of time for rest. However, a decrease in hematocrit is one of the first symptoms of anemia that requires treatment. The article also addresses the issue of the danger of a long-term decrease in hematocrit.
1 What does hematocrit show?
2 Hematocrit is below normal – what does it mean?
3 Causes of Decreased Hematocrit in Adults
4 Is low hematocrit dangerous?
5 Methods for increasing hematocrit
What does hematocrit show?
The value reflects the volume of the liquid part of the blood, which in the bloodstream contains formed elements (erythrocytes, leukocytes, platelets). The hematocrit value is measured as a percentage. So, if the analysis indicates that the hematocrit is 40%, this means that 40% of red blood cells, platelets, etc. are present in 100 ml of blood.
Low blood hematocrit is observed in patients with a low number of red blood cells in the bloodstream. The indicator also takes into account the size of blood cells. Their decrease is naturally reflected in the results of the analysis.
Measurement of hematocrit is useful in the diagnosis of anemia and hyperproteinemia, as well as in assessing the effectiveness of the selected treatment methods. The test is performed on patients with dehydration to assess the severity of their condition. Included in the list of obligatory determinable indicators for people who are scheduled for blood transfusion, and for pregnant women.
Main article: What is hematocrit, why is it needed and what are its norms?
Hematocrit is below normal – what does it mean?
A low hematocrit in an adult indicates a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the blood. In this case, the doctor will prescribe additional laboratory tests and instrumental diagnostic methods. Among the laboratory parameters, it is important to determine: the level of iron and ferritin, as well as to evaluate the biochemical parameters of the blood. Of the instrumental methods, it is preferable to conduct an ultrasound examination of the digestive organs, liver and small pelvis. Based on the results of a comprehensive examination and the collected history of the patient, the doctor determines the cause of the low hematocrit.
It should be borne in mind that if a woman gave biomaterial for analysis during menstruation, then the hematocrit is below normal – this is a standard phenomenon. During this period, a woman loses a certain amount of blood, which means that the level of red blood cells is somewhat reduced.
It is important to follow the rules of patient preparation, as well as the collection and transport of biomaterial. During venipuncture, destruction of red blood cells in vitro (hemolysis) can occur. For example, due to strong or prolonged squeezing of the site of taking the biomaterial with a tourniquet or at the wrong temperature for storing the collected blood. The obtained indications cannot be considered reliable, and the patient will definitely need to re-take the biomaterial.
Causes of Decreased Hematocrit in Adults
Only the attending physician after a complete diagnosis can determine the exact cause in each specific case. Consider the main causes of low hematocrit in adults.
Anemia (anemia) describes a group of similar syndromes, united on the basis of a total decrease in the level of hemoglobin and the number of red blood cells. It should be noted that the isolated term “anemia”, without clarifying explanations, does not describe a specific disease. In this case, it is only a separate symptom of a disease.
The decrease in the number of erythrocytes is mainly accompanied by changes in their qualitative composition. Which leads to a deterioration in respiratory activity and the gradual development of oxygen starvation of the tissues of all organs. The main symptoms of anemia are:
- pale skin;
- increased weakness and fatigue;
- desire to eat chalk, earth, raw meat;
- hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin;
- decreased memory and performance;
- bluish or yellowish sclera;
- earthy skin tone;
- persistent drowsiness;
- frequent headaches and dizziness;
- shortness of breath even with little physical activity;
The main causes of anemia
There are many known mechanisms for the development of anemia. Consider the main ones:
- Malfunctions in the process of synthesis of red blood cells and hemoglobin due to lack of iron and vitamins B 9 in the human bodyand 12, as well as for pathologies of the red bone marrow.
- Deficiency of red blood cells due to large blood loss, for example, in serious injuries or during surgery. A similar condition occurs in people with chronic bleeding (hemorrhoidal bleeding, intercycle blood loss in women, etc.). The main mechanism is a decrease in the concentration of iron, and not a decrease in the number of red blood cells.
- Mechanism of enhanced destruction of blood cells. The average lifespan of red blood cells is 4 months. With the manifestation of pathologies affecting the hematopoietic system, blood cells begin to degrade at an accelerated rate. The decay process is also influenced by external factors, for example, the use of vinegar in large quantities.
The prognosis of the outcome of iron deficiency anemia is extremely favorable. The condition is stopped by taking iron and vitamins. The outcome of other forms of anemia depends on their severity.
Fluid in the body
The hematocrit is also reduced with an increased fluid content in the body of an adult. This condition is not associated with excessive fluid intake, but with its retention in the body. Causes: kidney pathology, viral or bacterial infection. There is an increase in blood plasma volumes, while the number of red blood cells does not increase. This naturally leads to a decrease in the hematocrit value.
Hyperproteinemia and nutrition
Another reason is hyperproteinemia. Pathology is characterized by an excess content of proteins in the bloodstream. It occurs due to a violation of the normal functioning of the liver. Proteins begin to “attract” an excess amount of water, while the number of red blood cells does not increase. Thus, their percentage with blood plasma decreases.
In adult patients, the hematocrit is also reduced with a sharp change in diet, prolonged fasting and blood loss.
During pregnancy, especially in the second trimester, a decrease in the value in question is considered normal. In women, the level of plasma volume increases, and red blood cells are not synthesized at an accelerated pace. Thus, the percentage of plasma-erythrocytes is shifted towards a decrease in the latter. The decrease in hematocrit value begins from the fourth week, reaching a peak by 31-35 weeks.
However, a long-term decrease in the index should not be ignored, it is necessary to conduct additional diagnostics in order to exclude the possible development of pathological conditions. Thus, a decrease in hematocrit up to 30% can cause the development of intrauterine fetal hypoxia, impaired fetoplacental circulation, fetal growth retardation, etc. An indicator of 15 to 25% indicates the need for immediate hospitalization of a pregnant woman, followed by continuous monitoring.
Also, low hematocrit in adults can be observed with:
- lead intoxication;
- conditions after chemotherapy;
- acute infectious processes;
- severe intoxications.
Is low hematocrit dangerous?
The main function of red blood cells is the sufficient supply of cells and tissues with molecular oxygen. With their decrease, there is an insufficient supply of oxygen to the organs. This has a particularly negative effect on the functional activity of the brain. A person has a decrease in concentration, memory and mental activity.
Adults with a low hematocrit are more susceptible to infectious diseases, are unable to function fully, get tired more quickly and lose concentration. In the future, a lack of red blood cells can lead to the development of pathologies of the cardiovascular system, liver and kidneys.
Methods for increasing hematocrit
Do not try to increase the level of red blood cells on your own. The necessary treatment will be selected by a specialist based on the results of laboratory and instrumental studies. In case of prolonged starvation or dehydration, it is necessary to restore the normal diet and the amount of fluid consumed per day. In this case, the patient can do without drug therapy. It is also important to establish a daily routine and plan enough time for rest and walks in the fresh air.
If there is a shortage of iron or other elements, the doctor will select the necessary drugs, their dosage and determine the duration of their course. You should not interrupt the course of treatment yourself, even if the symptoms of anemia no longer bother you. Iron-rich foods should be included in the diet. For example, beef liver, seafood, lentils, red meat, nuts and pomegranate.
The use of alternative methods of treatment without prior agreement with the doctor is unacceptable. It should be emphasized that these methods cannot be a sufficient alternative to the methods of official medicine. They can only complement the treatment, provided that the selected components do not block the action of the medicinal components.
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Comment post… Comment… 1 Explanation of indicators
- 1.1 For men
- 1.2 For women
- 1.3 Erythrocytes
- 1.4 Hemoglobin
- 1.5 Leukocytes
- 1.6 Causes
- 1.7 ESR
- 1.8 Neutrophils
- 1.9 Lymphocytes
- 1.10 Monocytes
One of the most commonly ordered laboratory tests is a complete blood count. Several components are tested, namely red blood cells, white blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit and platelets.
Different components have different functions. Red blood cells, or erythrocytes, contain hemoglobin, which binds and carries oxygen through the bloodstream. Hematocrit is the percentage of red blood cells that make up the blood. White blood cells, or leukocytes, are involved in the fight against foreign particles as part of the body’s immune response. Finally, platelets or platelets help form blood clots to protect against excess blood loss during an injury. Below is a table for a general blood test.
Meaning of values
Normal ranges for complete blood counts depend on many factors; however, on average, the values are as follows (general blood test transcript).
Complete blood count: indicators for men:
- RBC (erythrocytes) = 4.32 to 5.72 trillion cells per liter.
- Hemoglobin = 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter.
- Hematocrit = 38.8 to 50%.
- WBC (leukocytes) = 3.5 to 10.5 billion cells per liter.
- Platelets = 150 to 450 billion per liter
A complete blood count for women is as follows:
- RBC = 3.90 to 5.03 trillion cells per liter.
- Hemoglobin = 12 to 15.5 grams per deciliter.
- Hematocrit = 34.9 to 44.5%.
- WBC = 3.5 to 10.5 billion cells per liter.
- Platelets = 150 to 450 billion per litre.
This is how a complete blood count looks like: normal.
Red blood cells
Red blood cells play a critical role in moving oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and returning carbon dioxide to the lungs for exhalation.
A lower than normal red blood cell count can be a sign of many health problems, including:
- Vitamin B-12 or folic acid deficiency;
- Gastric ulcer;
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
- Multiple myeloma.
A red blood cell count above normal can be a sign of many health problems, including:
- Pulmonary diseases;
- Heart diseases;
- Diseases of the kidneys;
- Blood diseases.
Hemoglobin is an iron-containing protein that facilitates the delivery of oxygen to the cells of the body. A complete blood count is often part of a routine check-up and is also usually ordered as part of an evaluation for medical symptoms such as fatigue and fever.
High hemoglobin levels and low hemoglobin levels are signs of various medical problems. These conditions can usually be corrected with medication or other interventions.
The causes of high hemoglobin are:
- Polycythemia vera (a condition in which there is a high level of all blood cells).
- Heart or lung disease.
- Liver or kidney cancer.
- Chronically low oxygen levels.
Low hemoglobin is caused by:
- Low dietary iron intake or low absorption of iron.
- Menstrual bleeding.
- Bleeding from any cause, including surgery, trauma, or gastrointestinal bleeding from an ulcer.
- Cancer, especially blood cell cancer.
Complete blood count in adults and children also involves the determination of the level of leukocytes. White blood cells, also called leukocytes, fight infection. They move through your body in blood, looking for invaders. And your body is constantly making a fresh supply.
Most often, a low white blood cell count is not a cause for concern. The number of leukocytes (white blood cells) in a person varies, but the normal range is usually 4,000 to 11,000 per microliter of blood.
A blood test that shows a white blood cell count of less than 4,000 per microliter (some labs say less than 4,500) may mean that your body is not able to fight infection properly. A low number is sometimes called leukopenia.
Your doctor will do a physical exam and look at the symptoms you have, as well as your past medical problems, to find out what is behind your result.
- Bone marrow problems : The spongy center of your bones called the marrow makes blood cells. A low white blood cell count is often associated with bone marrow problems. Being near certain chemicals, such as benzene and pesticides, as well as certain cancers and cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, can reduce your bone marrow’s ability to make white blood cells.
- Autoimmune disorders . Some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, will cause your body to attack and destroy its own white blood cells.
- Infection. Viruses can infect the bone marrow and temporarily cause low white blood cell counts. Severe infections, such as blood infections, can cause your body to use up white blood cells faster than it can produce them. HIV kills a certain type of white blood cell.
ESR or Hematocrit is the estimated volume percentage of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the blood.
Human blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets suspended in a fluid called plasma. The word hematocrit means division of the blood. In a hematocrit test, red blood cells are separated from the rest of the blood and plasma cells.
Hematocrit is important because red blood cells are essential for your survival. They contain a vital protein component called hemoglobin, which binds to the oxygen that feeds all of your body’s cells.
Due to differences in age and gender, the normal hematocrit is in the range. Hematocrit results are presented as a percentage. The average human hematocrit is 45%, which means that the volume of an erythrocyte contains 45 ml per 100 ml of blood. The general normal hematocrit ranges are:
- Men: 41% to 50%.
- Women: 36% to 44%.
- Newborn: 45% to 61%.
- CBC in children: 32% to 42%.
High hematocrit can be caused by:
- Heart disease.
- Scarring or thickening of the lungs.
- Bone marrow disease.
- Obstructive sleep apnea.
- Smoking and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Testosterone use
Hematocrit is critically high if it exceeds 67% (>67%).
Low hematocrit may be caused by:
- Loss of blood.
- Leukemia or other bone marrow problems.
- Iron and vitamin deficiency.
Neutrophils were among the first leukocytes to be described and visualized by early immunologists. Prominent effector functions during infection and sterile inflammation classically place them low in the immune tree as fast, aggressors with poor regulatory functions. This view is currently being reassessed as we discover new aspects of their life cycle and identify transcriptional and phenotypic diversity that endows them with regulatory properties that extend beyond their lifetime in circulation. These properties reveal an unanticipated role for neutrophils in maintaining homeostasis as well as in complex disease states such as cancer. They play a role in homeostasis, maintaining immunity and resistance to diseases.
A lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B cells and T cells. B cells produce antibodies that are used to attack invading bacteria, viruses, and toxins. T cells destroy the body’s own cells that have themselves been invaded by viruses or become cancerous.
Lymphocytes are cells that circulate in the blood and are part of the immune system. There are two main types of lymphocytes: T cells and B cells. B cells produce antibody molecules that can trap and destroy invading viruses or bacteria. T cells are direct fighters against foreign invaders and also produce cytokines, which are biological substances that help activate other parts of the immune system. One such part is called macrophages. These macrophages remove invaders and dead tissue after an immune response.
Monocytes are one of the largest types of white blood cells. Each type of white blood cell plays a unique role. Monocytes are responsible for attacking and destroying microbes and bacteria that enter the body.
Monocytes are phagocytic cells. This means that they destroy infections by “eating” them. They use their plasma membrane to engulf and destroy dead cells or harmful foreign particles and bacteria.
The normal range for absolute monocytes is 1 to 10% of the body’s white blood cells. If there are 8,000 white blood cells in the body, then the normal range for absolute monocytes is 80 to 800.
The presence of an absolute monocyte count that is higher or lower than typical is not in itself dangerous, but may indicate the need for further evaluation of the person. The absolute monocyte count can be a valuable way of assessing the overall health of the body’s immune system.
The body creates more monocytes to fight the invader. The absolute maximum of monocytes can also be a reaction to stress, chronic infections or autoimmune diseases.
Sometimes a monocyte count outside the normal absolute range can indicate a problem with the way the body makes new blood cells. This may indicate certain types of blood disorders.
Rarely, a high rate may be associated with a malignancy such as leukemia.
Preparing for a test
If your doctor has asked you to do a fasting blood test, fasting is usually done overnight.