What Is a red blood cell count?A red cell (RBC) count is a type of blood test that can supply details about how many red blood cells are in an individual’s blood. Knowing why your doctor bought an RBC count and what the results of your RBC count mean is important in understanding how it associates with your health.
The RBC count test may in some cases be done as one piece of a more extensive blood test, which is called a complete blood cell (CBC) count.
The RBC count is normally not used alone to diagnose a condition or a disease. In many cases, the RBC count might be less valuable to a doctor than other blood tests such as a hematocrit or a hemoglobin test.
An RBC count that is greater or lower than anticipated could result from several of several different diseases or conditions. This test is not particular enough to detect any particular disease, but rather is just one marker that a doctor may use in the diagnostic procedure. This is specifically true when it comes to a heme disorder, which is one of numerous conditions that cause an abnormality in producing heme. Heme is an essential part of blood that is composed of iron and is the compound that provides blood its red color.
Why Do I Need a Red Blood Cell Count?
According to the American Association for Clinic Chemistry (AACC), the test is usually a part of a complete blood cell (CBC) test. A CBC test determines the number of all types of components in the blood, consisting of:
- red blood cells
- white blood cells
Your doctor might carry out the test if they think you have a condition that affects your RBCs or if there’s any sign that you have low blood oxygen. The signs of low blood oxygen include:
- general tiredness
- nutritional shortages.
A CBC test will typically become part of a routine physical exam due to the fact that it’s a great sign of your total health. It might also be carried out prior to a surgery.
If you have a diagnosed blood condition that may affect RBC count or you’re taking any medications that impact your RBCs, your doctor might buy the test to monitor your condition or treatment.
How Is the Test Performed?
An RBC count is an easy blood test performed by a healthcare provider at your doctor’s office. They will draw blood from your vein, typically on the within your elbow. The steps involved in the blood draw normally are:
- The healthcare provider will clean the leak site with an antibacterial.
- They will wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to make your vein swell with blood.
- They will carefully insert a needle into your vein and collect the blood in a connected vial or tube.
- They will then remove the needle and elastic band from your arm.
- The healthcare provider will send your blood sample to a laboratory for analysis.
Examples Of A Normal RBC Count
An RBC count is the number of red blood cells per a particular volume of blood. This number might be reported in countless cells in a microliter of blood or in countless cells in a liter of blood.
Labs that processes blood draws may use other units to report the number of RBCs, and will likewise have variations in what is considered a regular variety. The table below contains just one example of a regular range of RBCs. A “typical” RBC count might also differ somewhat from person to individual, so the referral range is just that; it’s not a hard and fast guideline to go by.
Talk to your physician if you have concerns concerning your normal red blood cell count and what it might imply for your health.
Example Normal Red Blood Cell Count Reference Ranges
|Approximate Range for Women||4.2 to 5.4 million/mcL|
|Approximate Range for Men||4.7 to 6.1 million/mcL|
|Approximate Range for Children||4.6 to 4.8 million/mcL|
Expressed in million red cells per microliter (mcL) of blood.
What Is The RBC Count Used For?
Levels of RBCs that are out of the regular variety (either higher or lower) can be a sign that particular illness or conditions exist, although this test alone can not be used to detect. Polycythemia or erythrocytosis are terms that might be used to describe an elevated RBC count.
A higher than common RBC count might be related to:
- Genetic heart disease.
- Cor pulmonale.
- Dehydration (such as from severe diarrhea).
- Excess RBC production (polycythemia vera).
- Obstructive lung disease.
- Pulmonary fibrosis.
A lower than common RBC count might be connected with:
- Bleeding (consisting of internal).
- Bone marrow failure.
- Drug side effects (such as with chemotherapy).
- Deficiencies in iron, folate, vitamin B12 (Cobalamin), or vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine).
- Erythropoietin deficiency.
- Kidney disease.
- Multiple myeloma.