Why you should keep track of your hemoglobin level
17 Jan 2023
The oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells is hemoglobin (Hb or Hgb). A common blood test resulting in low hemoglobin levels can increase the risk of several diseases.
Men with a hemoglobin count of fewer than 13.2 grams per deciliter (132 grams per liter) and women with a hemoglobin count of fewer than 11.6 grams per deciliter (116 grams per liter) typically have a higher risk of getting affected by several diseases. The definition varies depending on age and gender. These thresholds might be slightly different in different medical practices as well.
A hemoglobin count that is only marginally lower than normal rarely affects how you feel. Anaemia may cause a more severe and symptomatic low hemoglobin count.
What happens when hemoglobin is low?
If a disease or a certain condition tends to affect your body's inner ability to produce red blood cells RBC, then your hemoglobin levels may drop.
When you have low hemoglobin levels, your body isn't getting enough oxygen, making you feel tired and weak.
What level is dangerously low haemoglobin levels?
A normal level of hemoglobin for women ranges between 12.3 gm/dL and 15.3 gm/dL. And for men, it ranges from 13.5 gm/dL or lower as dangerously low hemoglobin levels, and for women, a severely low hemoglobin level is 12 gm/dL.
Tests to diagnose hemoglobin low?
The common types of low hemoglobin tests performed are:
Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test is the most common test used to measure a person’s hemoglobin level. It measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the blood, as well as the hemoglobin level.
Vitamin B12 and Folate Tests: These tests measure levels of B12 and folate in the blood. Low levels of these vitamins can interfere with hemoglobin production and may lead to low hemoglobin levels.
Iron Studies: These tests measure levels of iron, ferritin, and total iron binding capacity in the blood. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, so these tests can help to determine if a person has a deficiency of iron, which can cause low hemoglobin.
Reticulocyte Count: This test measures the number of immature red blood cells in the blood. Low reticulocyte counts indicate that the body is not producing enough red blood cells, which can lead to low haemoglobin levels.
What causes haemoglobin levels to go low?
Several factors affect haemoglobin levels are:
Diet: A balanced, nutrient-rich diet is essential for maintaining healthy hemoglobin levels. Food that increases hemoglobin levels is rich in iron, such as red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, fortified bread and cereals, and leafy green vegetables, which are important for producing hemoglobin.
Age: Hemoglobin levels naturally decline with age. Their red blood cell production decreases as people age, resulting in lower hemoglobin levels.
Hydration: Staying hydrated is important for maintaining healthy hemoglobin levels. Dehydration can cause hemoglobin levels to drop, so drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, is important.
Exercise: Regular physical activity helps to keep hemoglobin levels up. Exercise increases the body's oxygen demand, stimulating the production of red blood cells, including hemoglobin.
Health Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as anemia, can cause hemoglobin levels to drop. The treatment for these conditions will depend on the underlying cause.
What affects red blood cell production?
Your bone marrow is the place where all the blood cells are made. The following conditions, diseases, and other factors influence the production of red blood cells:
Lymphoma: Cancers of the lymphatic system are called lymphomas. Red blood cell production can be hindered by lymphoma cells in the bone marrow, which can decrease the number of red blood cells.
Leukaemia: Leukemia is a blood and bone marrow cancer. The leukemia cells in your bone marrow might make it harder to make red blood cells.
Anaemia:Low haemoglobin levels are common in various forms of anemia. For instance, in people with aplastic anemia, the stem cells in your bone marrow don't make enough blood cells. Pernicious anemia is caused when an autoimmune disorder prevents your body from absorbing vitamin B12. If you don't get enough vitamin B12, your body will produce fewer red blood cells.
Multiform myeloma: Multiple myeloma causes abnormal plasma cells, which have the potential to take the place of red blood cells in your body.
Syndromes of myelodysplastic cells: This condition occurs when your blood stem cells do not mature into healthy blood cells.
The persistent disease of the kidneys: Your kidneys make a hormone that tells your bone marrow to make red blood cells. Chronic kidney disease affects this process.
Medication used to treat the virus: These medications treat some viruses. Your bone marrow may suffer damage due to these medications, reducing its capacity to produce sufficient red blood cells.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy's effects on the cells in your bone marrow may reduce its capacity to produce red blood cells.
What affects red blood cell lifespan?
Your bone marrow constantly produces red blood cells. Red blood cells exist for about 120 days and they are drained of the bloodstream. Some factors that influence the lifespan include:
Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly): The spleen is responsible for filtering red blood cells. Due to some diseases, our spleen size is increased. When this happens, your spleen traps more red blood cells than usual, ending those cells' lifespan earlier.
Sickle cell anemia is a blood disease affecting your haemoglobin level.
Thalassemias: These are blood disorders that affect your body's ability to make hemoglobin and red blood cells.
Low hemoglobin symptoms
The signs of having low haemoglobin levels can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Depending on the cause of the low hemoglobin, symptoms may include:
The feeling of dizziness, sleep, lightheadedness
Fast or unusual heartbeat
Pain in bones, stomach, chest, and joints
Problems with growth for children and teens
Shortness of breath
Skin that's pale or yellow
Cold hands and feet
Tiredness or weakness
Your red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to various body cells, contain hemoglobin. The structure of hemoglobin is made up of four interconnected protein molecules. It is important to keep track of hemoglobin for our bodies to function well. If you find someone suffering from the symptoms mentioned above, you must visit Medanta for instant treatment.
Prev Why does the risk of heart-related problems in...
Next Why kidney transplant is boon to society?