How to Read Your Blood Count Levels

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The complete blood count, or CBC, is a comprehensive blood work-up that contains a tremendous amount of information about the make-up of your blood, and can indicate the presence or absence of many medical conditions. However, it can also be awfully confusing, given the sheer amount of information present on the report. But armed with a little information about the report, you can make some ballpark conclusions about where your results fall in comparison to normal values in a few major categories.

  • Look at the white blood cell (WBC) count. White blood cells fight infections, and either an above-average or below-average amount of white blood cells can be medically useful information. The normal range of white blood cells is between 3.3 and 8.7 K/uL, or thousand per cubic microliter.

  • Compare the red blood cell (RBC) count to average values. These are measured in mil/uL, or millions per cubic microliter, and normal values fall between 3.9 and 5.7 mil/uL.

  • Check the volume of hemoglobin in your blood as indicated by the report. This may be listed under the abbreviation HGB. Hemoglobin carries carbon dioxide to the lungs for exhalation, and oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body for use. Anywhere between 12.6 and 16.1 mg/dL, or milligrams per deciliter of blood, is a normal value for hemoglobin.

  • Find the platelet count on the CBC report. Platelets are vital in forming blood clots---when you bleed, platelets clot together to stop the bleeding. Too low of a platelet count can result in prolonged bleeds; too high of a platelet count can lead to emboli forming in the bloodstream. Look for a value of between 147 and 347 K/uL, or thousand per cubic milliliter, in the platelet count on the report.

  • Consult with your doctor about any scores that appear out of the ordinary range. It's possible that they're simple deviations in the test; also, certain races, genders, and weights are prone to different leanings within the indicated ranges. Your doctor will be able to run further tests if anything appears too far out of the ordinary.

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