What Is High Red Blood Cell Count
A high red blood cell count means the number of red blood cells in your bloodstream is higher than normal. Red blood cells are one of the major components of your blood, along with white blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells help carry oxygen throughout your body. But, when your red blood cell count is high, it could mean you have an underlying health condition.
How Much Does The Test Cost
The cost of a RBC count depends on where you have the blood sample drawn, the charges by the laboratory where your blood is analyzed, and whether you have insurance coverage. You can ask your doctor, the laboratory, and/or your health insurance provider about costs and whether your plan will cover the blood draw and laboratory testing.
Normal White Blood Cell Count
If you have had your blood tested, you may have seen the letters “WBC” among the results. This is your white blood cell count. This test is among several that can help your healthcare provider figure out if something is going on inside of your body. It can also help people with chronic illnesses manage their condition and/or monitor their response to treatment.
Read on to learn more about the WBC count, what the range of values means, and why your healthcare provider might order the test.
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What Is The Normal Blood Count For A Female
Normal red blood cell counts range from 4.2 to 5.4 million cells per microliter in women. Typical white blood cell counts range from 4,500 to 10,000 cells per microliter in both men and women, explains the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Hematocrit is the proportion of total blood volume made up of red blood cells this should measure from 36.1 to 44.3 percent in women and 40.7 to 50.3 percent in men, according to the National Library of Medicine. Hemoglobin levels from 12.1 to 15.1 and 13.8 to 17.2 g/dL are considered normal in women and men, respectively.
Treatment For A High Rbc Count
If you have erythrocytosis, you may need a regular phlebotomy. This removes a small amount of blood from your body in order to lower your RBC count.
If phlebotomies dont work, your doctor may prescribe hydroxyurea to reduce your RBC count.
You may also need aspirin to help with potential blood clots.
Lifestyle changes can affect your RBC count. Some changes that can help increase your RBC count include:
- maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding vitamin deficiencies
- exercising regularly, which requires the body to use up more oxygen
- avoiding aspirin
If you need to decrease your RBC count, the following lifestyle changes may help:
- reducing the amount of iron and red meat that you consume
- drinking more water
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Effect Of Blood Oxygen
The relevance of the red cell count for the plasma erythropoietin concentration is known based on numerous observations that anemias of various etiology are associated with elevated plasma erythropoietin levels, while states of primary polycythemia move in parallel with subnormal erythropoietin concentrations . In principle, anemia could lead to an elevation of plasma erythropoietin levels by reduction of the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, as well as by the fall of the number of circulating red blood cells per se. This latter possibility is not trivial since, for example, plasma thrombopoietin levels appear to be regulated by the number of circulating platelets . Therefore, the demonstration that a reduction of the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood in the presence of a normal red cell countfor example, by carbon monoxide inhalation stimulates erythropoietin levels to a similar extent as anemia was an important confirmation that anemia influences erythropoietin production mainly through changes of the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Again, the efficacy of carbon monoxide to increase plasma erythropoietin levels is dependent on the hematocrit/hemoglobin concentration in a way that it is less effective during polycythemia and exaggerated during anemia .
FIGURE 7. Relationship between hematocrit and plasma erythropoietin in rats. Anemia was induced by various maneuvers as indicated.
Gail L. Walter, … Robin M. Walker, in, 2013
When Should I Call My Doctor
Your provider will review the results of your CBC with you. If you have questions about the results, call your provider.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Healthcare providers use complete blood counts to manage disease and help you stay healthy. With one sample of blood, CBCs can help screen for hundreds of disorders, conditions and infections. A CBC can detect conditions early, sometimes before you have symptoms, so treatment can start as soon as possible. CBCs are an essential tool in maintaining good overall health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/02/2021.
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What Abnormal Results Mean
Higher than normal numbers of RBCs may be due to:
- Cigarette smoking
- Problem with heart’s structure and function that is present at birth ( congenital heart disease
- Failure of the right side of the heart ( cor pulmonale
- Kidney tumor
- Low blood oxygen level
- Scarring or thickening of the lungs ( pulmonary fibrosis
- Bone marrow disease that causes abnormal increase in RBCs ( polycythemia vera
Your RBC count will increase for several weeks when you are in a higher altitude.
Drugs that can increase the RBC count include:
Lower-than-normal numbers of RBCs may be due to:
- Bone marrow failure
- Deficiency of a hormone called erythropoietin
- RBC destruction due to transfusion, blood vessel injury, or other cause
- Too much water in the body
Drugs that can decrease the RBC count include:
- Chemotherapy drugs
What Does A Cbc Measure
The test can tell your doctor a lot about your overall health. It measures:
- White blood cells . These help your body fight germs. If you have too many of them, it could be a sign of inflammation, infection, a medical reaction, or another health condition. If itâs low, you could be at a higher risk for infection. A medication, a viral infection, or a bone marrow disease could also cause a low count.
- Red blood cells . These deliver oxygen throughout your body. They also help carry carbon dioxide. If your RBC count is too low, you may have anemia or another condition.
- Hemoglobin . This is the protein in your blood that holds oxygen.
- Hematocrit . This test tells how much of your blood is made up of red blood cells. A low score may be a sign that you donât have enough iron, the mineral that helps your body make red blood cells. A high score could mean youâre dehydrated or have another condition.
- Mean corpuscular volume . This is the average size of your red blood cells. If theyâre bigger than usual, your MCV will be higher. That could happen if you have low vitamin B12 or folate levels. If your red blood cells are smaller, you could have a type of anemia.
- Platelets. These help your blood clot.
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What Is The Normal Count Of Rbc In The Blood
RBC count ranges depend on gender and age according to the following table:
- Adult men: 4.5 6.2 million/µl
- Adult women: 4 – 5.5 million/µl
- Boys from 15 to 17 years old: 4.3 5.7 million/µl
- Girls from 15 to 17 years old: 3.8 5 million/µl
- Children from 11 to 14 years old: 4.1 5.3 million/µl
- Children from 6 to 10 years old: 4.1 5.2 million/µl
- Children from 3 to 5 years old: 4.0 5.1 million/µl
- Children of 2 years old: 3.8 5 million/µl
- Babies from 6 months old to 2 years old: 3.9 5.1 million/µl
- Babies from 8 weeks old to 5 months old: 3.4 4.8 million/µl
- Babies from 5 weeks old to 7 weeks old: 2.9 4.2 million/µl
- Babies from 2 weeks old to 4 weeks old: 3.1 4.8 million/µl
- Newborns : 4.1 5.7 million/µl
Normal Reference Range Of Values
No hard-and-fast number defines what a “normal” WBC count is. Instead, the results are reported in relation to the normal expected range of values within a population. Anything below this range is low, and anything above this range is considered high.
A low or high WBC count doesn’t mean the same for all people, mainly if the values are borderline. This is because a “normal” WBC count can vary from one person to the next based on age, sex, race, smoking status, and other factors. WBC counts can also fluctuate throughout the day.
Labs can also differ in defining a high or a low WBC count. So, it is possible to have a normal WBC at one lab and find that you have a low or high WBC count at another.
WBC counts are measured by the number of white blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood . Here is an example of how a lab might define the expected range of values for a WBC count:
|Example of WBC Count Reference Ranges|
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Treatment For A Low Rbc Count
All types of anemia require treatment. Your treatment will depend on whats causing your anemia.
- Iron deficiency. You can take iron supplements or receive iron infusions through your veins.
- Vitamin deficiency. You can take vitamin supplements.
- Bone marrow failure. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications. If medications dont help, you may need a bone marrow transplant.
- Chronic conditions. Your doctor will usually focus on treating the underlying condition. Sometimes, they may prescribe an EPO-stimulating agent.
- Blood loss. A blood transfusion can bring in more RBCs to your body.
A Note About Sex And Gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms, male, female, or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. .
RBCs are the most common component of human blood. The cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen around the body. Hemoglobin is also responsible for bloods red color.
Having a low RBC count can cause symptoms that may include:
- young children
- people taking blood thinners
Heavy periods can cause iron deficiency anemia due to increased blood loss, but iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy is usually the result of a deficiency of iron in the diet.
Anemia is also common in young children. This is also often due to a lack of iron in their diet. The World Health Organization estimates that globally, 42% of children under the age of 5 years old are anemic. Older adults may also be more likely to have a low RBC count due to malnutrition.
People following restrictive diets as a means for weight loss are also at risk of having a low RBC count. This is common in young females.
Eating disorders can severely affect the quality of life of people living with these conditions and those close to them. Early intervention and treatment greatly improve the likelihood of recovery.
Anyone who suspects that they or a loved one has an eating disorder can contact the National Eating Disorder Association for advice and support via:
- phone or text at 800-931-2237
- online chat, by going to this link
Many other resources are available, including:
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How To Measure Rbc In Urine
In most cases, a doctor will discover RBC in the urine during a urinalysis. A urinalysis checks for several key health indicators following the delivery of a urine sample.
The ideal sample uses the clean catch method. The clean catch method involves starting the flow of urine and placing the collection cup into the flow midstream. This helps remove any potential contamination from bacteria or other substances that may be near the genitals.
In some cases, a doctor can use a simple dipstick to test the urine for blood. A dipstick is a piece of paper with chemicals on it. These chemicals react with different substances that may be present in the urine. In the case of looking for RBC, a dipstick will turn a different color if RBC is present.
After this, the doctor will send the sample to a laboratory for further testing. The laboratory staff can provide more information about the amount of RBC, as well as any other substances that could indicate an underlying condition, in the urine.
Why The Test Is Performed
The RBC count is almost always part of a complete blood count test.
The test can help diagnose different kinds of anemia and other conditions affecting red blood cells.
Other conditions that may require an RBC count are:
- Bone marrow disorder in which the marrow is replaced by scar tissue
- Disease that damages kidney blood vessels
- Disorder in which red blood cells break down earlier than normal
- White blood cell cancer
How Is A High Red Blood Cell Count Treated
It depends on the underlying cause. If a health condition is causing a high red blood cell count, your provider may recommend a procedure or medication to lower it.
If you have polycythemia vera , your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine called hydroxyurea. This will help slow your bodys production of red blood cells. Youll need to see your provider regularly while taking hydroxyurea to be sure your red blood cell level doesnt drop too low. Often, people with polycythemia vera also undergo routine blood withdrawals to keep their red blood cell count under control.
Should I Worry If My Red Blood Cell Count Is High
Not necessarily. While a high red blood cell count can indicate a disease or disorder, it doesnt always mean you have a health condition. Other factors like living at a high altitude can also have an impact on your red blood cell count.
But, if you have a high red blood cell count, its always a good idea to have additional testing done. This way, your healthcare provider can find the cause and determine if treatment is necessary.
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What Are Normal Blood Count Numbers And What Do They Mean
Normal red blood cell counts are between 3.9 and 5.7 million cells per microliter, white blood counts range from 3,500 to 10,500 cells per microliter, and platelet counts range between 150,000 to 450,000 cells per microliter, says Mayo Clinic. Blood count numbers help doctors diagnose infections and other disorders.
A complete blood count is useful for patients experiencing symptoms such as fatigue and weakness that may be due to problems such as infections or anemia, says WebMD. Red blood cells are important in transporting oxygen throughout the body. For men red cell counts between 4.32 and 5.72 million cells per microliter are normal, and counts between 3.9 and 5.03 million cells per microliter are normal for women, according to Mayo Clinic. Hemoglobin provides red blood cells with oxygen, and normal counts are between 135 and 175 grams per liter for men and between 120 and 155 liters for women.
Hematocrit levels tell doctors the volume of red blood cells in the blood, says WebMD. These levels should be between 38.8 and 50 percent for men and between 34.9 and 44.5 percent for women, reports Mayo Clinic. White blood cell counts between 3,500 and 10,500 cells per microliter are normal for both genders. White blood cells play an important role in defending the body from infection, says WebMD, and elevated levels can indicate an active infection. For both men and women platelets, which help blood clot, should be between 150,000 to 450,000 cells per microliter.
Why Do I Need A Red Blood Cell Count
According to the American Association for Clinic Chemistry , the test is usually a part of a complete blood cell test. A CBC test determines the number of all types of components in the blood, consisting of:
- red blood cells
- general tiredness
- nutritional shortages.
A CBC test will typically become part of a routine physical exam due to the fact that its 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 youre taking any medications that impact your RBCs, your doctor might buy the test to monitor your condition or treatment.
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How Blood Cancers Affect Blood Counts
Blood cancers can affect blood cell counts in a number of ways, either lowering or increasing measurements. If you’re currently receiving cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, drug therapy or radiation, your blood counts will be affected. Blood counts usually return to normal after treatment is complete.
Complete Blood Count And Rbc Indices
The automated CBC directly measures hemoglobin, RBC count, WBC count, and platelet count, plus mean corpuscular volume , which is a measure of RBC volume. Hematocrit, which is a measure of the percentage of blood made up of RBCs, mean corpuscular hemoglobin , which is a measure of the hemoglobin content in individual RBCs but is of no clinical significance, and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration , which is a measure of the hemoglobin concentration in individual RBCs are calculated values.
The diagnostic criterion for anemia is
For men: Hemoglobin < 14 g/dL , hematocrit < 42% , or RBC < 4.5 million/mcL
For women: Hemoglobin < 12 g/dL , hematocrit < 37% , or RBC < 4 million/mcL
Microcytic indices occur with altered heme or globin synthesis. The most common causes are iron deficiency, thalassemia, and related hemoglobin-synthesis defects. In some patients with the anemia of chronic disease Anemia of Chronic Disease The anemia of chronic disease is a multifactorial anemia. Diagnosis generally requires the presence of a chronic inflammatory condition, such as infection, autoimmune disease, kidney disease… read more , the MCV is microcytic or borderline microcytic.
Macrocytic indices occur with impaired DNA synthesis and in alcohol use disorder because of abnormalities of the cell membrane. Acute bleeding may briefly produce macrocytic indices because of the release of large young reticulocytes.
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