What are red blood cells and why are they needed
Red blood cells — are blood cells that are produced by the bone marrow. With the help of the hemoglobin protein, they deliver oxygen to all tissues of the body and carry carbon dioxide from them into the lungs.
Up to 2 million red blood cells are produced every second, and they live an average of 120 days.
According to this indicator, it is possible to assume what kind of disease a person has.
An increase in the number of red blood cells, or erythrocytosis, can lead to:
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Heart disease. These may be congenital malformations or a pulmonary heart — the so-called pathological enlargement of the organ cavities, which develops, for example, with chronic obstructive disease or scarring of the lungs.
- Severe dehydration.
- Kidney tumor.
- Low oxygen levels in the blood. This happens, for example, when climbing mountains.
- Malignant bone marrow disease, in which a lot of red blood cells are produced.
- Taking some medications. Let’s say anabolic steroids, erythropoietin or gentamicin-based antibiotics.
If the level of red blood cells is reduced, doctors talk about erythropenia. There may be such reasons for this condition:
- Damage to the bone marrow by toxins, tumors, or radiation.
- Kidney disease, in which the production of the hormone erythropoietin decreases. Normally, it stimulates the division of red blood cells.
- Too rapid destruction of red blood cells, or hemolysis.
- Leukemia. This is one of the types of blood cancer.
- Bone marrow cancer, or myeloma.
- Lack of iron, copper, folic acid, vitamin B6 or B12
- Hyperhydration. This is the name of a condition in which there is a lot of water in the body.
- Medications. Some antibiotics, over-the-counter painkillers, chemotherapy drugs, remedies for epilepsy and high blood pressure can reduce the number of red blood cells.
It all depends on the gender and age of the person. The following indicators are considered normal:
- in men — 4.7–6.1 million cells per microliter of blood;
- in women — 4.2–5.4 million cells per microliter of blood;
- children have 4.0–5.5 million cells per microliter of blood.
To do this, they take a general blood test. You don’t need to prepare for it specifically. Most often, the sample is taken from the capillaries in the finger, less often from the vein of the hand. In newborns, the heel is pierced.
If there are deviations to a greater or lesser extent, you should not engage in self-diagnosis — it is better to consult a therapist. When evaluating the result of the analysis, he will look not only at red blood cells, but also at other indicators, and also take into account the symptoms that bother you. If necessary, the doctor will prescribe additional diagnostics or refer you to a specialized specialist.