Red Blood Cell Count or RBC Count
Red Blood Cell Count
● Red blood cell count or RBC Count measures the number of red blood cells.
● Red blood cell (RBC) count is almost always part of a complete blood count.
● RBC counts help diagnose different kinds of anemia (low number of RBCs) and other conditions affecting red blood cells.
● RBCs or erythrocytes are biconcave-shaped cells.
● RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and carry carbon dioxide from the peripheral tissues to the lung.
● They have a lifespan of 120 days and are removed from the blood by the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, which are a part of the reticuloendothelial system.
● The RBC count is determined by counting the number of red blood cells in a specific volume of blood.
● It is usually measured as the number of RBCs per microliter (μL) or cubic millimeter (mm^3) of blood.
● This measurement is typically obtained through a complete blood count (CBC) test.
● The RBC count provides valuable information about the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and helps in diagnosing and monitoring various medical conditions.
● It is an important component of the CBC and is often interpreted alongside other blood parameters.
Normal Range of RBC Count
● Male Adult: 4.5 – 6.2 million cells/cumm
● Female Adult: 4.5 – 5 million cells/cumm
● Child, 1 – 18 years: 4.0 – 5.5 million cells/cumm
● Infant, 6 – 12 months: 3.5 – 5.2 million cells/cumm
● Infant, 2 – 6 months: 3.5 – 5.5 million cells/cumm
● Infant, 2 – 8 weeks: 4.0 – 6.0 million cells/cumm
● Newborn: 4.8 – 7.1 million cells/cumm
Symptoms of an abnormal count
Symptoms of a low red blood cell count include:
● Pale skin
● Rapid heartbeat
Symptoms of a high red blood cell count include:
● Shortness of breath
● Joint pain
● Vision problems
● Tenderness in your palms or soles of your feet
● Itching skin, particularly after a shower or bath
● Sleep disturbance
Indications of RBC Count
● To determine anemia, polycythemia, dehydration or response to treatment.
Interpretation of RBC Count
● RBCs increase either due to a relative decrease in plasma as in hemoconcentration or dehydration or as a result of an absolute increase in hematopoietic, as in renal cell carcinoma.
A low red blood cell count can be a sign of:
● Vitamin B-12 or folate deficiency
● Stomach ulcers
● Hodgkin lymphoma
● Multiple myeloma
● Kidney failure
● It may also be a sign of pregnancy.
A high red blood cell count can be a sign of:
● Heart disease
● Polycythemia vera, a bone marrow disease that causes too many red blood cells to be made
● Scarring of the lungs, often due to cigarette smoking
● Lung disease
● Kidney diseases
● Blood disorders
● Kidney cancer
Your RBC count could be affected by:
● Some medicines
● Your position when the blood is drawn
● The RBC count is often evaluated alongside other blood parameters, such as hemoglobin and hematocrit, to gain a comprehensive understanding of blood health.
● Trends in RBC count over time, along with the individual’s symptoms and medical history, are important for diagnosis and monitoring of conditions.
Treatment for a low RBC count
All types of anemia require treatment. Your treatment will depend on what’s causing your anemia.
Iron deficiency: You can take iron supplements.
Vitamin deficiency: You can take vitamin supplements.
Bone marrow failure: Your doctor may prescribe certain medications or a bone marrow transplant.
Chronic conditions: focus on treating the underlying condition. Sometimes, prescribe an EPO-stimulating agent.
Blood loss: A blood transfusion can bring in more RBCs to your body.
Treatment for a high RBC count
Erythrocytosis: you may need regular phlebotomy. This removes a small amount of blood from your body in order to lower your RBC count.
Phlebotomies: don’t work, your doctor may prescribe hydroxyurea (Hydrea or Droxia) to reduce your RBC count.
You may also need aspirin to help with potential blood clots.
● While RBC count provides valuable information about blood health, it is important to interpret the results in the context of the individual’s overall health, medical history, and additional laboratory findings.
● Other blood parameters and clinical assessments are often necessary for a comprehensive evaluation.
Also, Visit: Pathophysiology Notes