HEALTH TESTS
September 6th, 2021
3 mins read

RBC Count Test: Why is it Important and What is the RBC Normal Range?

Red blood cells are produced in your bone marrow

RBCs carry oxygen to the tissues and organs in your body

An RBC count test measures the number of red blood cells

The RBC count test is almost always a part of the complete blood count (CBC) test [1], which offers a glimpse of your overall health. A CBC test measures various components of your blood, including the RBC count, which refers to the number of red blood cells, the WBC count, which refers to the number of white blood cells, and hemoglobin and platelets. You can also get a specific RBC blood test to measure this level.

Red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and carry oxygen to the tissues and organs of your body, which is vital for their functioning [2]. Read on to learn more about the red blood cell count, RBC normal value, and the causes of abnormal RBC count.

Additional Read: How is a BP Test Done? What Should be Your Ideal Range?

What is meant by RBC count?

RBC count or RBC blood test determines the number of red blood cells your body has. This is because your RBCs contain hemoglobin that carries oxygen to the various body organs and tissues. The amount of oxygen your tissues receive depends on the number of RBCs produced.

An RBC count test is performed to diagnose any condition that affects your RBCs. These may include the different types of anemia [3], Alport syndrome [4], white blood cell cancer, bone marrow disorder, and disorders in which RBCs break down earlier than normal. An RBC count is usually part of a complete blood count test, which is also done if you show any symptoms of low blood oxygen. These include bluish discoloration of the skin, confusion, irritability, irregular breathing, and restlessness.

 

What is the RBC normal range?

The normal RBC count for men should be 4.7 to 6.1 million cells per microliter (mcL), according to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society [5]. The RBC normal value for women is 4.2 to 5.4 million cells per mcL, whereas the RBC count normal range is 4.0 to 5.5 million mcL for children. As per the National Health Service (NHS) reports, women generally have lower red blood cell count than men. Also, the level of RBCs reduces with age [6].

how to have a normal rbc count

What are the symptoms of an abnormal red blood cell count?

  • Higher than RBC normal value

If you have a high red blood cell count, you may have symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, itchy skin after a shower, and shortness of breath. You may also face disturbances during sleep and tenderness in your palms or soles.

  • Lower than normal RBC count

Difficulty breathing, fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness, and pale skin symptoms of a low red blood cell count. You may also experience an increase in heart rate and headaches, among other symptoms.

  • Causes of high red blood cell count

Below are some factors that cause erythrocytosis or high red blood cell count.

  • Smoking of cigarettes
  • Cor pulmonale or failure of the right side of the heart
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Hypoxia or low blood oxygen level when you move to a higher altitude
  • Renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer
  • Pulmonary fibrosis, thickening or scarring of the lungs
  • Polycythemia vera, a bone marrow blood cancer that leads to overproduction of RBCs
  • Dehydration from diarrhea and other conditions
  • Drugs like gentamicin and methyldopa

Causes of low red blood cell count

Below are some causes of low red blood cell count.

  • Anemia
  • Pregnancy
  • Thyroid disorders or dysfunctions
  • Internal or external bleeding
  • Leukemia, cancer in the blood-forming tissues
  • Multiple myeloma, bone marrow cancer
  • Overhydration, excess of water in the body
  • Malnutrition, lack of nutrients in the body
  • Iron, copper, vitamins B-6, B-12, and folate deficiency in the diet
  • Failure of bone marrow from radiation, toxins, or tumor
  • Hemolysis, RBC destruction caused by blood vessel injury, transfusion, and other causes
  • Erythropoietin hormone deficiency that causes anemia in people with chronic kidney disease
  • Chemotherapy, chloramphenicol, hydantoins, and quinidine drugs

Additional Read: What a Full Body Test Entails and Why it is Important?

Your doctor may recommend that you take an RBC count test to diagnose different types of anemia or other conditions. Try to maintain a normal RBC count by making a healthy lifestyle and dietary changes. Keep your overall health on point by booking a blood test on Bajaj Finserv Health. You can also consult health specialists for guidance on how to control your RBC count and WBC count.

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