News Karnataka
Wednesday, October 27 2021

Health & Lifestyle

What is the CBC test and why is it important?


When one falls ill, there can be several reasons for it and hence doctors run thorough tests before diagnosing the problem in the human body. One such test conducted by doctors is known as CBC or Complete Blood Count test. This article will focus on the CBC test and its importance.

Understand the CBC blood test:

When one visits the doctor for a general check-up or if they have problems like recurring fatigue, fever, or weakness, a CBC test is generally recommended which is a part of a hemogram test. Disorders that are caused by a lower count of red blood cells can be easily identified using the CBC test. Examples of such disorders include anemia, leukemia, etc.

A CBC test can help doctors identify if there are any infections in an individual’s bloodstream. It is also used to keep tabs on the effects of medical treatments for example if an individual is undergoing chemotherapy a CBC test can help evaluate if the treatment is effective or not. Listed below are a few things measured by a CBC test;

  • Red blood cells that are primarily tasked with carrying oxygen
  • White blood cells that are primarily concerned with fighting external infections
  • Platelets which are very important in the clotting of blood
  • Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries the oxygen
  • Hematocrit is the ratio of red blood cells to plasma or the fluid component of the blood

The reasons for it

Listed below are a few common reasons for undergoing CBC tests:

  1. To evaluate one’s general health – A doctor may conduct a CBC test to evaluate one’s general health as part of a routine examination. A diverse amount of disorders can be eliminated by conducting a CBC blood test including leukemia, anemia, etc. 
  2. For diagnosis – In case a patient suffers from problems like inflammation, bleeding, bruising, fever, weakness, etc. a doctor would diagnose the reason for it using the CBC test. 
  3. For monitoring medical conditions – People who have blood disorders or any other disorder that impacts the blood cell count, a CBC test can be used to monitor it. 
  4. For monitoring medical treatments – If a person is taking some medicines as part of a treatment that alters the blood cell count then a CBC test can help monitor it.

Preparation:

If an individual is getting a CBC test or hemogram test then there are a few things to keep in mind. A CBC blood test does not need any specific preparation steps. One can eat and drink normally before the test and no period of fasting is usually required before the test. In case the blood sample needs to be used for any other tests a period of fasting may be required by an individual’s doctor to let them know about it before the test.

The test:

In a CBC test, a doctor or a member of the healthcare team will insert a needle into a vein usually located at the end of the elbow. The needle only pinches a little and does not cause pain. Using the needle, a small sample of blood is collected into a tube and sent to a lab for analysis and examination. After drawing the blood, the doctor will place a swab of cotton or bandage on the place the blood was drawn from.

Results:

If one gets results that are below or above the ordinary range in the following areas, it may be a possible cause for concern. Listed below are a few things that an abnormal count on a CBC blood test can indicate:

  1. White blood cells:
    Many autoimmune diseases can destroy white blood cells. Cancer and bone marrow diseases are also known to result in the loss of white blood cells and so a low count of white blood cells can be indicative of any of these problems.
    A higher count of white blood cells can also indicate inflammation, infection, or an adverse reaction to some medication that a person is on. Bone marrow diseases and immune system disorders are also known to cause a high count of blood cells. 
  2. Red blood cells hematocrit or hemoglobin:
    Results concerning hematocrit, hemoglobin, and red blood cells are all interlinked as they all measure aspects of the red blood cells.
    If one has a low count of these three, it can be reflective of anemia. Anemia is caused by blood loss, low levels of iron or vitamins, or some other condition. Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of Anemia.
    Erythrocytosis is a condition in which the red blood cell count or the hemoglobin hematocrit count is higher than usual. This could be indicative of an underlying condition in the body like heart disease or polycythemia vera.
  3. Platelet count:
    A higher or lower platelet count can be a side effect of a medicine or another problem in the body. Additional tests are needed to indicate the exact reason for this phenomenon.

Conclusion

A CBC blood test can indicate a variety of different problems in the body and is very important to check the overall health of the body. It is also an easy test to get and should be taken upon the recommendation of an individual’s doctor.

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