The amount of haemoglobin in the blood can be measured with the help of the hemoglobin test. It is a protein that can be found in the red blood cells which carry oxygen to the organs of the body.
Haemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues and the carbon dioxide produced in these tissues and organs back to the lungs. If it is revealed by a haemoglobin test that level of haemoglobin is low, it would mean that there is a low red blood cell count (or anaemia).
Anaemia could be a result of different causes, including bleeding, chronic diseases and vitamin deficiencies. There are several potential causes which might show the haemoglobin level higher than normal. It could be due to dehydration, smoking, living at high altitudes and because of the blood disorder polycythemia vera.
Why would the haemoglobin test need to be performed?
The haemoglobin test can be performed for several reasons. These could be the following:
- Diagnosing a medical condition – The doctor might recommend you to get a haemoglobin test if you have been facing symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness and dizziness. The symptoms and signs might be pointing to polycythemia vera or anaemia. The haemoglobin test might help to diagnose certain medical conditions.
- Monitoring a medical condition – The doctor would be using haemoglobin tests to monitor the condition and guide treatment if you have been diagnosed with conditions like polycythemia vera or anaemia.
- Checking the overall health status – The doctor might also be checking the haemoglobin as a part of a complete blood test. This helps to perform a routine medical checkup to examine the general health.
The RA factor test might also be done to check if there are antibodies being produced by the immune system that would indicate the presence of an autoimmune disease.
What should you be expecting from the haemoglobin test?
There is no bar on eating and drinking if the blood sample collected is going to be just for a haemoglobin test. You might need to fast for some amount of time if the sample would be taken for some other tests. For instance, an FBS test would require fasting for sure. The doctor would provide you with all the specific instructions. A healthcare professional would be taking a blood sample by pricking the fingertip. He might even draw blood from the vein in the arm. The sample can be obtained by pricking the heels in infants. The blood sample would be sent to a lab for further analysis.
What should you be expecting from the results?
1. The normal range for haemoglobin varies from about:
- 13.5 to 17.5 g/dL for men
- 12.0 to 15.5 g/dL for women
The normal ranges might vary a little with the age and sex of the person.
2. If the results are lower than normal, you might be having anaemia.
There are lots of different forms of anaemia, each with a different cause. Some might include:
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
- Folate deficiency
- Deficiency of iron
- Diseases concerning the liver
- A disease of the kidneys
- Cancers that affect the bone marrow, for instance, leukaemia
- Thalassemia – a genetic disorder that is responsible for low levels of red blood cells and haemoglobin
3. The results being higher than normal could signify medical conditions, like:
- Lung diseases
- Polycythemia vera
- Polycythemia vera – a disorder of the blood in which the bone marrow produces too many RBCs
- Extreme physical exercise
- Heavy smoking
- Excessive vomiting
If any previous diagnosis has been made, the elevated haemoglobin levels would indicate a need to alter the present treatment plan. The doctor might want to evaluate your condition on the basis of some other tests if the haemoglobin results are not normal.
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