Have you ever wondered what a blood count counts?
A complete blood count reports the number of red and white blood cells and platelets there are in the blood and the physical characteristics of the cells, including size, shape, and content.
The story told by white cells, red cells and platelets
Here’s a quick refresher on the role of blood cells:
White blood cells are bigger than red blood cells but fewer in number. Their job is to protect the body against infection; if you have a bacterial infection, the number of white blood cells will rise rapidly.
Without getting too technical—there are a number of white blood cell types, each of which plays a unique role in protecting the body, including neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. An increase or decrease in these cells may reveal an allergic or toxic reaction to medicines or serious conditions such as leukemia.
Red blood cells (RBC) carry oxygen from the lungs to the body and carbon dioxide back to the lungs where it can be exhaled. When RBC is low, the body many not be getting the oxygen it needs. If the RBC is too high, it may be a sign that red blood cells will clump together and block tiny blood vessels.
A CBC includes a measure of hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin (HgB) is the protein molecule that “fills up” the red blood cells with oxygen. The hemoglobin test measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood; normal ranges are 13.8 to 17.2 grams per deciliter for men, and 12.1 to 15.1 gm/dL for women. Low HgB and low hematocrit can be evidence of anemia.
In a complete blood count, hematocrit (HCT) packed cell volume (PCV) is also measured. The measurement shows the percentage of red blood cells in the volume of the blood as compared to plasma in the blood. A hematocrit of 54% indicates a blood volume of 54% red blood cells. HCT and the hemoglobin measurement are good measurements of the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.
Platelets—the smallest of the three types of blood cells—are also counted in a CBC. Platelets form clots in order to stop bleeding. A lower-than-normal or higher-than- normal number of platelets may indicate a illness ranging from celiac disease and vitamin K deficiency to anemia and leukemia.
A complete blood count is included in all super chemistry tests at HealthCheckUSA. Remember, the CBC is a good way to evaluate your overall health and detect a wide range of disorders such as:
- Autoimmune conditions (diseases in which the body’s immune system attacks the body)
- Bone marrow abnormalities
- Anemia and other blood disorders
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Effects of chemotherapy and medications used over the long term
- Effects of certain antibiotics