If you have ever had a blood test done, you know that the test results usually come back with a lot of data. Some of these results may be answers to specific questions the doctor had about your health and wellness. Others, like your hematocrit numbers, are standard on almost every test. While it is good to be informed about these things, it doesn't do you much good if you do not know what the results mean for your health. So, what do your hematocrit test results mean?
What Is a Hematocrit Test?
A hematocrit test is a blood test that looks at the size and number of the red blood cells in your blood. It is usually included whenever a blood test is ordered for any reason so your doctor can check to see if there are any problems and get a baseline red blood cell count to compare to future tests.
What Do Your Hematocrit Test Results Mean?
Your hematocrit numbers can alert your doctor to many potential problems. Knowing your red blood cell count allows your doctor to see if there are any problems, like anemia or certain infections or conditions that may damage your red blood cells or interfere with their production.
Low hematocrit numbers may alert your doctor to conditions like nutritional deficiencies, leukemia, kidney disease, certain types of arthritis, and many other conditions. Often, these numbers can alert a doctor to a problem before it becomes symptomatic and allow for early treatment and better outcomes.
High red blood cell counts may also cause problems. If the concentration of red blood cells in your blood is too high, the blood becomes thick and sticky. This may cause trouble flowing through the smaller veins and arteries and cause blockages. High red blood cell counts can be caused by living at high elevations, dehydration, and recent blood transfusions.
What Are Considered Normal Hematocrit Numbers?
Average red blood cell counts vary based on your age and gender. They are given as percentages and signify the portion of your blood that should be made up of red blood cells.
- Children - between 30% and 44%, depending on age
- Women - between 37% and 47%
- Men - between 42% to 50%
Medications for Low Hematocrit Numbers
If you are found to have a low red blood cell count, the first course of action may be to put you on a nutritional supplement that contains iron, like Ferate. The additional iron will make it easier for your body to make red blood cells. Other treatments would include treating the underlying condition that is causing your anemia.
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