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What do MCV and MCH values mean?
Feb 5, 2003

Hi Doc!

You look great these days! By the way, I am a 40 year old female that had recent blood work done. Everything was completely normal except my "MCH and MCV" The one that can change due to altitude is higher than normal, the other lower. What do these values mean if platelets and RBC is normal? I am fatigued a lot.

Also, what do you think of Christine Maggiore (the hiv does NOT equal AIDS dissident)?

Keep well Doc, I love your column.

Thanks, A fan.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Fan,

The RBC (red blood cell) count, MCH (mean corpuscular volume) and MCHC (mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) are some of the results reported out on your CBC (complete blood count). The RBC is your red blood cell count, which usually ranges from 3.6 to 6.1 million red blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood. MCH and MCHC are called red blood cell indices. They measure the average amount of hemoglobin contained within your red blood cells. Don't worry about minor abnormalities in these indices. These tests really don't deserve all that much attention if your other CBC results are within normal limits.

Fatigue can be associated with anemia. Anemia would show up on your CBC as a decreased in RBC's or hemoglobin, a protein, which enables RBC's to carry oxygen throughout the body. Normal hemoglobin levels are 12-16 g/dL for women and 14-18 g/dL for men. So if your hemoglobin level and RBC counts are normal, you are not anemic. Consequently, you can rule that out as a cause of your fatigue. Are you HIV-positive? If so, write back and I'll give you some additional potential causes of fatigue in the setting of HIV disease. If you are not HIV-positive, and are having ongoing problems with fatigue, see your general medical doctor for an evaluation.

AIDS dissidents? They are also called AIDS denialists. They have a right to believe anything they want. I'm sure if we look hard enough, we can find folks who still believe the world is flat, cigarettes are harmless, and Trent Lott is not a racist. Of course, none of these things are true either. All I can do is wish them well and hope they will become enlightened soon. I also hope they don't unduly influence impressionable minds and lead them to ignore overwhelming scientific fact.

Thanks for writing.

Dr. Bob


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