Your complete blood count (CBC) is a type of blood test to decipher your overall health. This includes detecting various disorders, such as anemia, infection, and leukemia. Your CBC test also measures components and features of your blood, like your red and white blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin, and hematocrit.
While the CBC test can detect many things involving your health, it's important to understand the results to help better yourself and make changes. But how can you learn more?
At Summit Primary Care in Colorado, we’re a primary care team of experts that can answer all your questions regarding your complete blood count results and beyond. Here are some tips on how you can understand it:
Why it's important to understand your complete blood count
A CBC test is essential for various reasons, including:
For checking your overall health
Sometimes, we may recommend a CBC during a routine medical examination to screen for various disorders and monitor your general health.
To help diagnose a medical condition
If you have weakness, fatigue, fever, inflammation, bruising, or bleeding, we may recommend taking a CBC to confirm a diagnosis.
To monitor a certain medical condition or medical treatment
If you've already been diagnosed with a blood disorder that affects your blood cell counts, you might have to take a CBC to monitor the said disorder or to keep track while on medications that could affect your blood count.
Results of your CBC
There are “normal” ranges for each component of your blood, including:
- Red blood cell count
- White blood cell count
- Platelet count
If any of your blood count results fall below or above the normal ranges, they may indicate potential health concerns that our experienced team can investigate further. Blood tests often provide insights into a newly forming health issue before noticeable symptoms occur.
For example, suppose your red blood cell count, hemoglobin, and hematocrit count are below the normal range. In that case, you probably have anemia which causes fatigue and weakness due to low levels of specific vitamins or iron, blood loss, or an underlying condition.
If your levels are higher than average, you could have an underlying heart condition like polycythemia vera or heart disease. These results are all related because each measures aspects of your red blood cells.
As for your white blood cell count, if it's low (also known as leukopenia), it may be caused by a medical condition like an autoimmune disorder that destroys white blood cells, bone marrow problems, or indicates cancer. If this cell count is too high, you may have an infection, inflammation, an immune system disorder, or bone marrow disease. Low and high white blood cell counts can be caused by taking medications.
Finally, if you have a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) or high count (thrombocytosis), you may have a medical condition or side effects from the medication you're taking. You most likely need additional tests to determine the reason.
It's important to note that a CBC is not a definitive test to diagnose an illness. We may request a CBC for various reasons, and results outside the normal ranges may not require a follow-up. However, when coming in for a test, we might need to perform additional testing to decipher conclusive results.
To learn more about the specifics of your complete blood count results, or if it’s been a while since you had an annual wellness exam, call our office closest to you, whether in Denver, Pueblo, or Colorado Springs, or schedule an appointment online today.