High Red Blood Cell Count

The terms polycythaemia and erythrocytosis are used by physicians if you have a high red blood cell count. Polycythaemia is an abnormally high concentration of hemoglobin in the blood through an increase in red cell numbers, whereas erythrocytosis just refers to a documented increase of red cell mass. The number of red cells you have differs according to sex and age. Women have lower levels than men and newborns often will have more than adults.

What Is Normal Range of Red Blood Cell Count?

Regular red blood cell series of various ages are:

  • Males: 4.7 to 7.2 million/microliter
  • Females: 4.2 to 5.0 million/microliter
  • Children: 3.8 to 5.5 million/microliter
  • Babies: 4.8 to 7.2 million/microliter
  • Pregnancy: Slightly lower than typical adult cell counts

If you exceed the ceiling of your range, you may have a high blood cell count.

Symptoms of Having High Red Blood Cell Count

Mild cases of polycythaemia might not cause any symptoms, however typical symptoms can include:

If polycythaemia is associated with liver cancer, kidney cancer, or other erythropoietin producing growths, the symptoms can include abdominal pain or fullness, weight loss, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin).

Why Do You Have High Blood Cell Count?

The causes of polycythemia can be main or secondary. In main polycythemia, abnormalities in the production of red blood cells cause a high red cell count. The cause of secondary polycythemia is the result of external aspects such as sleep apnea, hypoxia, and particular growths, impacting red cell production.

high red blood cells count

1. Causes of Primary Polycythemia

Primary polycythemias are abnormally high levels of red blood cell precursors arising from inherited or gotten hereditary mutations. This category likewise includes polycythemia vera, and primary familial and congenital polycythemia.

Polycythemia vera

Polycythemia vera is a fairly unusual condition, and is typically associated with an elevated white blood cell count and platelet count. A bigger spleen and low erythropoietin levels are other scientific features of polycythemia vera. The exact cause of polycythemia vera is not well comprehended. Nevertheless, medical experts have discovered that genetic anomalies are accountable for many cases. These mutations are believed to potentially increase the level of sensitivity of the red cell precursors to erythropoietin, thus increase red blood cell production.

Main familial and genetic polycythemia

Genetic anomalies are likewise thought to cause primary familial and congenital polycythemia. This leads to an increased responsiveness to typical levels of erythropoietin. Many cases are caused by various mutations in the erythropoietin receptor gene.

2. Causes of Secondary Polycythemia

Long-lasting direct exposure to low oxygen levels or suffering from an erythropoietin producing tumor can cause secondary polycythemia. A lack of oxygen or producing growth can cause your body to make more of the hormone erythropoietin, and high levels of EPO can prompt your body to make more red blood cells than normal.

Chronic hypoxia

Conditions that cause chronic hypoxia such as chronic bronchitis, sleep apnea, chronic cardiovascular disease, and emphysema are called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Additionally, individuals who reside in high altitudes may develop polycythemia. At high altitudes, increased red blood cell production happens in order to make up for the low oxygen levels and low level tissue oxygenation.

Erythropoietin secreting tumors

Specific growths often launch increased amounts of erythropoietin. The more common erythropoietin producing tumors are kidney cancer, liver cancer, adrenal adenoma, and uterine tumors. In some cases, a kidney obstruction or noncancerous kidney cysts might likewise produce more erythropoietin and cause polycythemia. An unusual hereditary genetic condition can cause an increased activity of the gene that produces erythropoietin, and the overproduction can cause polycythemia.

Diagnose High Red Blood Cell Count

Your medical history, a physical exam and a series of tests are used to decide if and why a patient has an erythrocytosis, such as:

  • Blood test for an increase in red cell numbers.
  • Health examination is performed to look for signs of possible hidden conditions.
  • Red cell mass study that is typically carried out in a health center’s nuclear medicine department.
  • Vitamin measurement such as iron, folic acid and vitamin B12, which are all important in red cell production.
  • Oxygen levels to determine oxygen levels in the blood, normally with a probe clipped onto your finger.
  • Lung function test for COPD.
  • Oxygen dissociation to measure how firmly hemoglobin hangs on to oxygen.
  • Urine test for the existence of blood, sugar or other problem.
  • Chest X-ray to examine that the lungs and heart appear regular.
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen to check the kidneys, liver and for any increase in the size of the spleen or fibroids in the womb.
  • Kidney and liver function tests for normal performance.
  • Bone marrow sample that is carried out under local anesthetic.
  • Echocardiogram to examine the structure of the heart.
  • Genetic testing for anomalies common in polycythaemia vera, and the erythropoietin receptor.
  • Sleep study if a condition called sleep apnea is believed.

What Are the Treatments of High Red Blood Cell Count?

1. Medical Treatments

Phlebotomy is the quickest and most basic method of decreasing your red blood cell count, and it might be suggested if you have a history of blood clots. Phlebotomy involves getting rid of about a pint of blood at a time, much like the procedure used for blood contribution. How often this is required will be different for each individual.

Medication to reduce red blood cell production
Medication might be recommended to slow down the production of red cell. Your doctor will take into consideration your age and health, action to phlebotomy and high red cell count when choosing the most proper medication for you. Examples might include hydroxycarbamide or interferon.

Medication for blood clot prevention
Daily low-dose aspirin pills can be recommended to help prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of serious complications. You might also be provided treatment with low-dose aspirin if you are in other conditions affecting your capillary, such as cerebrovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

2. Home Remedies

Some easy steps can be taken at home to control prospective symptoms and avoid possible complications for people with polycythemia, consisting of:

  • Remaining well hydrated to avoid focusing the blood even further through dehydration. Usually speaking, there are no constraints on physical activity.
  • If you have a bigger spleen, contact sports need to be avoided to avoid injury and rupture.
  • Avoid iron supplements because this can promote more red cell production and a high red blood cell count.



Updated: October 19, 2016 — 3:16 am

The Author

Reyus Mammadli

Healthy lifestyle advisor. Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.
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