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How to Interpret Your Complete Blood Count Result

Updated on March 19, 2012

The complete blood count or CBC is a blood exam being requested to know the current status of the different cells in your blood. It is a test to screen for diseases like anemia, infection, some malignancies, and many more. It is one of the initial diagnostics being done at the emergency room. It is simple to do with results usually within 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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What are the Components of Your CBC and What they Mean

Hemoglobin – this is the part of your red blood cell which carries oxygen all over the body. If your hemoglobin levels are decreased it could pertain to anemia, bleeding, patients with chronic kidney disease, or a possible blood dyscrasia. If your hemoglobin levels are elevated we could consider polycythemia vera and dehydration.

Red Blood Cell (RBC) – this part of the CBC tells you the number of cells that could carry oxygen in the body. Same with hemoglobin, decrease levels of RBC could also be secondary to anemia or bleeding and increase levels could also be secondary to polycythemia or dehydration.

Hematocrit – this measures the amount of space in the blood being occupied by your red blood cells. Causes for the increased and decreased of hematocrit are the same with your hemoglobin and red blood cells.

White Blood Cell (WBC) – this are the cells in the body that fight off invaders like infections. An increase or decrease in WBC count could represent an ongoing infection or a malignancy like your leukemia. Also included in the CBC is the 5 differential count for your WBC, namely:

Neutrophils or segmenters – this type of WBC are the primary cells that respond to a bacterial infection. High levels of your neutrophils usually represent and ongoing infection, an inflammation, malignancy, cause by some drugs, etc. Low levels of your neutrophils could be seen in patients with viral infection, autoimmune diseases, some medications and malignancy.

Lymphocytes – this type of WBC represent 20-40% of your circulating WBC in the blood. An increased in lymphocyte count usually represents an acute infection especially viral infections, leukemia, smoking, etc. Low lymphocyte count is usually not significant.

Monocytes – this comprises 3-8% of all white blood cells in the body. An increase in monocyte could signify a chronic infection like your tuberculosis or a chronic inflammation condition like your inflammatory bowel disease and malignancy. Low levels of monocytes are usually none significant if other cells are normal.

Basophils – this comprises only 0.01-0.3% of all white blood cells in the blood. This type could produce histamine. Increased numbers could represent a myeloproliferative disorder.

Eosinophils – comprises 1 – 6% of all white blood cells in the blood stream. They are usually increase in cases of allergy, asthma and in parasitic infections. Low levels are usually not significant.

Platelet Count – the normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 – 400,000 /L and this cell is involved in the clotting cascade of the body. Low levels of this cell could cause easy bruising and bleeding. Causes of low platelet count include infections (ex: dengue fever), autoimmune disease, liver disease, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, etc.

Red Cell Indices – this are investigated when considering diseases like your thalassemia or sickle cell anemia.

MCV (mean corpuscle volume) – telling you the average size of the red blood cell,

MCH (mean corpuscle hemoglobin) – shows the average amount of hemoglobin in each red blood cell

MCHC (mean corpuscle hemoglobin concentration) – average amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cell compared to their average size.

Your complete blood count is easy to do and quick to obtain results which could tell you a lot about your body.


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    • profile image

      Van 2 months ago

      Thank you for sharing. It really helps a lot to me :)

      God bless!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      I've known some terms but the overall function of our blood got my attention.

      Thanks for sharing your expertise, Doc J. :)

    • jhunpaler profile image

      jhunpaler 6 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for the comment @my nurse :)

    • My Nurse Says profile image

      My Nurse Says 6 years ago from Philippines

      Good thing to post this Hub... Not all people are knowledgeable about numbers they get from their CBC results. And because of this, patients tend to get over-anxious or nervous, wondering if their CBC results are normal or not, or whether or not they have reasons to be concerned about. Thanks for the post... quite useful!