Jan 24, 2003
I'm a bit confused. I've read here and elsewhere that anemia is caused by low red blood cells but no one talks about measurung these guys on blood tests. Am I missing something? Are hemoglobins red blood cells? I just want to make sure my doctor is ordering the right test. Thanks for you very clear and funny questions. Joey
Response from Dr. Frascino
Don't be confused. That's a good question! You are correct: Anemia is a medical term for low red blood cells or low hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein contained within red blood cells.
Actually, we do measure red blood cells when we get a complete blood cell count, often referred to as a CBC. The normal range is 3.6 to 6.1 million red blood cells in a single cubic milliliter of blood. The hemoglobin or hematocrit numbers are indirect ways of measuring red blood cells, and are easier to perform in the laboratory and often easier for we physicians to interpret and deal with.
The hematocrit measures the percentage of blood that is made up of red blood cells (as opposed to white blood cells, platelets, plasma, etc.). The normal ranges are 40-52 per cent of total blood volume for men and 35-46 per cent in women. Hemoglobin is an oxygen-carrying protein within red blood cells. The normal ranges are 14-18 g/dL for men and 12-16 g/dL for women. It's actually much easier for we physicians to keep track of hemoglobin and/or hematocrit results than actual red blood cell count numbers for a variety of reasons that are technical and beyond the scope of this forum. I am fairly certain your doctor is ordering the proper test. It's very basic.
As for my clear and funny "questions," well, I hope I provide more "answers" than questions, but if you're still confused, write back and I'll try to "clear" things up in my own "funny" little way.
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