Every second, your bone marrow makes 2-3 million red blood cells. Also called erythrocytes, red blood cells contain the protein hemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Red blood cells are the most common type of cell found in the blood. And it’s not surprising. The oxygen they carry is essential for cell metabolism.
In their mature state, red blood cells are small (only 6 µm) and biconcave in shape. When they pass through small blood vessels, they transform into a bell-like shape so that they can squeeze through.
As red blood cells mature in your bone marrow, they get rid of their nuclei. This extrusion of nuclei by mature red blood cells happens right before they leave the bone marrow. It creates more space for hemoglobin.
In people with certain medical conditions, red blood cells have abnormal shapes. For example, in individuals with pernicious anemia, red blood cells appear oval-shaped; and in sickle-cell anemia, crescent-shaped.
A red blood cell count, also known as an erythrocyte count, calculates the number of red blood cells in your blood. It is typically measured as part of a complete blood count (CBC).
A red blood cell count is measured in millions per microliter (RBC X 106/µL) or millions per cubic millimeter (RBC X 106/mm3)
A low red blood cell count is a condition known as anemia.
There are three causes of anemia:
A low red blood cell count can be a sign of many health problems, including:
People with a low red blood cell count may experience the following symptoms:
A high red blood cell count is a condition called polycythemia vera. If you have this medical condition, it means that your bone marrow is producing too many red blood cells. This can result in thickening of the blood, slow flow of blood, and eventually blood clots.
There are two types of polycythemia vera:
Various medical conditions associated with generalized hypoxia or overproduction of red blood cells typically cause a high red blood cell count, including:
People with polycythemia vera may not show any symptoms. However, experts at the Mayo clinic have highlighted certain symptoms, grouped into “vague” and “more specific.” Vague symptoms include:
More specific symptoms include:
The normal red blood cell count ranges (measured in RBC × 106/μL or RBC × 1012/L) are as follows:
Disclaimer: The content of this knowledge post intends to provide general information related to topics that are relevant to blood diagnostics and may not be used in relation to the operation of Sight OLO. For detailed information on the diagnostic parameters and specifications of Sight OLO, please refer to the official Operator's Manual.