You have just received the results of your blood test, but all of those acronyms seem impossible to understand? Here is a short guide to read it!
Blood tests are the first step to make sure of one’s health. That is why our doctors always asks us for them. When we receive the results, it is natural to check the blood parameters and try and understand what are those “gone bad”. Of course, it is important to read the tests with your doctor, but sometimes we can’t wait.
How to read the blood test results? In front of a paper full of unknown acronyms and numbers that seem to have no meaning, we can give up and wait our doctor. Or we can figure out how to read a blood test. Here is a simple guide to understand the most common entries.
How to read blood tests
First, an important detail: the parameters of each element refer to a specific range. If the values are higher or lower, we can experience some anomalies that deserve to be checked by our doctors. However, the reference range may be different from laboratory to laboratory. This is why this guide will not include normal values. Always refer to those you find on your laboratory report.
The blood count
The first routine blood test is the blood count. It measures some of the important values on red and white blood cells. Here are the items to pay attention to.
RBC – Red Blood Cells: it indicates the number of erythrocytes, the cells responsible for transfering oxygen to the internal organs. A too low value is a sign of anemia, on the contrary, an excess of red blood cells can cause future circulatory problems.
WBC – White Blood Cells: it indicates the number of leukocytes, the cells responsible for the organism defense. They are divided into neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes, monocytes. A deficit indicates a weak immune system, prone to infections. Too high a number of white blood cells could indicate an infection in progress.
MCV – Mean Corpuscular Volume: it indicates the size of the red blood cells.
MCH – Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin: it indicates the amount of hemoglobin contained in a red blood cell.
MCHC – Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration: it indicates the cellular concentration of hemoglobin in a red blood cell.
HTC – Hematocrit: it indicates the portion of blood occupied by red blood cells. A low value may indicate anemia.
HGB – Hemoglobin: it indicates the amount of the protein which carries oxygen and carbon dioxide present in red blood cells.
PLT – Platelets: it indicates the amount of cells for blood coagulation. If they are low, it can cause bleeding, while a too high value can cause thrombosis.
ESR – erythrocyte sedimentation rate: it is the rate of red blood cell sedimentation. An increase can indicate the presence of an inflammation.
The other blood parameters: how to read them
Iron: it indicates the amount of iron available in the bloodstream. Its deficiency is linked to anemia.
Ferritin: it indicates the presence of iron reserves in the liver.
Blood glucose: it indicates the amount of glucose in the blood. People who suffer from diabetes have it high.
Cholesterol: it indicates the amount of lipids produced by the liver. A high value may lead to cardiovascular problems.
Triglycerides: it indicates the amount of fat that the body is not able to dispose of.
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Nicoletta Chiara Romano