Complete Blood Count Test (CBC) happens to a blood test that is commonly prescribed by doctors to determine an underlying disease. To elaborate, CBC is often conducted by attending doctors when one has a specific condition like an infection. Additionally, CBC can also be undertaken to run a check on the level of any prescribed medication and its effect on your body. The test gives an insight into three blood cells types primarily; Red Blood Cells (RBC), White Blood Cells (WBC), and platelets. The complete blood test report shows the number of cells present in the blood along with a host of their physical characteristics like shape, size, and their contents.

Red Blood Cells-What do they tell

RBC’s are part of your blood that is responsible for carrying and circulation of both oxygen as well as carbon dioxide throughout the human body. Red blood cells are made up of hemoglobin and hence the red color, which also contains iron as a part of the structure. It is the presence of hemoglobin that carries oxygen to all the tissues and carbon dioxide (in the form of waste) away from them. The expelling usually happens when we breathe out through our lungs.

White Blood Cells-Why its count is important.

The part of human blood that is responsible for fighting any infections is essentially the White Blood Cells. To have a complete understanding of WBC, a differential test is also available and can be done alongside other blood tests as well. The differential test gives an insight into the physical characteristics of white blood cells for a host of functions, which keeps several body functions going strong. The main components include the following:

  • Neutrophils
  • Monocytes
  • Lymphocytes
  • Basophils
  • Eosinophils

What kind of disorders can be determined by a CBC

Medical professionals tend to prescribe CBC upon finding any sign of infection on the patient. Any signs of weakness, fatigue, restlessness, bleeding, bruising can also suggest that there is an underlying disease within the body, which can be determined by performing CBC along with other core tests. A majority of these signs may call for an intensive treatment while a lot of symptoms disappear on its own within a few weeks. However, it is to be noted that the RBC and WBC count can also be affected if the patient is on multiple medicines or suffer from any dietary deficiency. An abnormal CBC result can help determine:

  • Leukemia or Cancer
  • Any Autoimmune condition
  • Anemia and Bone marrow issues
  • Dehydration due to water loss or mineral deficiencies
  • Thalassemia
  • chemotherapy after effects
  • Side effects of antibiotics
  • Long term medication and after impact
  • Any Infections or Inflammation

How a complete blood test is performed 

Like any standard blood test, CBC too is performed by drawing blood from the patient. In case of adults, the blood is usually extracted by inserting a needle to the vein in his arm at the position of the arm, where the elbow bends. For infants, the blood is obtained from the heel.

How to prepare yourself before CBC

Well, there’s nothing to prepare for a CBC. Just relax. There’s nothing to panic.

Does the CBC test show any other measurements?

The CBC test shows a host of other measurements that includes:

  • Mean platelet volume (MPV Blood Test) – Refers to the average size for the platelets. It is an essential count as new platelets are always bigger in size compared to old ones. Also, a high MPV usually means a higher output of platelets.
  • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin– It refers to hemoglobin amount on an average within a red blood cell.
  • Hematocrit (HCT) –Percentage of red blood cells in total blood volume.
  • Mean corpuscular volume– It is the average size of a red blood cell. Macrocytic refers to a particular state when the red blood cells tend to grow bigger than the normal size. On the other hand, Microcytic speaks of a condition when red blood cells are smaller in size than usual.
  • Red blood cell distribution width– Size variation for red blood cells.

Platelet count: The number of platelets in a total of thousands per cubic milliliter of your blood.

  • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration– The concentration of hemoglobin within a red blood cell on an average. It offers an overview of the cell pallor which can be distinguished by pale red color. As such, the intensity of paleness can help further in diagnosis.

A few things to consider

During the CBC evaluation, there is a good chance that the results may vary or come out abnormal. Don’t be alarmed as there are several factors involved for a particular patient ranging from his food habits to his lifestyle affecting the test. Here a few pointers that will help you to have a positive viewpoint of things:

  • Sometimes, the white blood cell count can show a drastic change as much as by

2,000 WBCs per microliter, which is generally due to certain activities like rigorous exercise, or addictions like smoking or stress in general.

  • Note that the count of WBC‘s in children is generally higher compared to adults.

Depending on your medical condition, there are specific additional tests that can be recommended further by attending doctors:

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate – A test that is done to measure how fast the red blood cells can settle in a test tube environment. In the presence of any inflammation, the test depicts red blood cells settling at a much slower rate than normal condition. When a CBC test result is normal, Erythrocyte sedimentation rate test can help determine the cause of inflammation within the body.

Reticulocyte count-The test counts the number of red blood cells that are immature in a collected blood sample. Usually, there are only a few reticulocytes that are present within a mature blood cell. However, any recent incident of bleeding can destroy quite a few blood cells, and hence, the number of immature blood cells can be relatively higher.  The test also helps in determining the anemic level within the blood.

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