Hematocrit Levels

Hematocrit Levels: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Hematocrit levels refer to the proportion of red blood cells in the blood. It is the test suggested by the doctor to understand the red blood cell count. Red blood cells are important for your body. It aids in carrying the oxygen throughout the body. Having too many red blood cells or too little blood cells indicates some health issues. So, the presence of some problem can affect the hematocrit levels. it is mostly detected with the hematocrit test. It is the PCV (packed-cell volume) test that detects the issue. But, do not worry! It is the simple blood test that causes you no inconvenience. You can resume your daily activities within no time after getting the blood tested. Want to know more about it? Then, read ahead to get the right information.

What Is Hematocrit?

Hematocrit levelsBefore going into the details of the levels, you need to understand the test used by the doctor. The hematocrit test can measure the proportion of red blood cells. It is part of the complete blood count (CBC). So, your doctor can suggest the test to help better diagnosis of your health condition. It can also aid in monitoring the response of treatment. The different levels of hematocrit can indicate different health issues.

Causes Of Low Hematocrit Levels

Hematocrit LevelsThe lower than normal hematocrit levels can indicate the following issues in your body.

Anemia

It refers to the insufficient blood supply in your body. It can indicate lower levels of red blood cells.

High Levels Of White Blood Cells

The high levels of white blood cells can disrupt the red blood cell levels. it refers to the presence of infection, long-term illness, or serious issues like lymphoma and leukemia. The white blood cell disorders can also affect hematocrit levels.

Deficiencies

The vitamin or mineral deficiencies can affect the red blood cell levels in the bloodstream.

Blood Loss

A recent blood loss due to an injury can trigger the blood. Long-Term blood loss can also affect the levels.

Causes Of High Hematocrit Levels

Some of the health problem varying in severity can trigger the high levels of blood cells production. Some cases need no medical attention. The simple issues can clear on its own. While other health problems need immediate medical attention to clear it completely. The problems leading to high levels of hematocrit are:

What Is Hematocrit Levels?

It is referred to as the percentage of your red blood cells in the bloodstream. So, the red blood cell percentage in the total blood volume can help know the hematocrit levels. The red blood cells play a significant part in maintaining your health. It helps in carrying the nutrients and oxygen to the vital organs of the body. Therefore, your body requires the correct proportion of the red blood cells to stay healthy. When you suffer some health issues, the levels of red blood cells can vary. So, your doctor can order HCT test to detect the too low or too high levels of red blood cells.

The Need For Hematocrit Levels Detection

The hematocrit test can aid your doctor to diagnose any particular health condition. It is also effective in determining the body’s response to any treatment plan. In most cases, the test can detect the following health condition.

  • Anemia
  • Leukemia
  • Dehydration
  • Dietary Deficiencies

The hematocrit test is a part of the complete blood count (CBC). So, your doctor can order it as a part of the CBC. The other tests included in the CBC are:

The overall blood test can provide comprehensive information about the red blood cell count. It can help determine health issues. So, the doctor can develop the right treatment plan for your specific condition.

Hematocrit Levels Detection

The hematocrit test can determine the levels accurately. So, how is it performed? Like any other blood tests, your doctor sends the sample of your blood for evaluation. The lab technicians can assess the blood sample to determine the levels. Read ahead to know in detail about the steps involved in detecting the hematocrit levels.

Blood Sample

The first step involves taking a small sample of your blood. It can determine the red blood cells levels in the bloodstream. The technician can draw the blood from a finger prick. In most cases, the blood is drawn from the vein in the arm. The area from where the blood gets drawn depends on the type of test your doctor has ordered. In the majority of cases, the doctor orders the hematocrit test as a part of the CBC. So, the lab technician draws blood from the vein. The back of the hand or inside of the elbow are the common places to draw blood.

Procedure

It is a simple procedure that takes only a few minutes. You can resume your normal day-to-day activities after taking the blood. The lab technician draws the blood through the vein after cleaning the surface with antiseptic. A tourniquet or elastic band around the upper arm can swell the vein with blood. So, it aids in the easy drawing of blood from the veins. It is collected in one or more vials and sent for testing. After removing the elastic band, a bandage can stop the bleeding. It is slightly uncomfortable testing. The needle puncture can cause pricking or pinching sensation.

Evaluation

Evaluation

In the laboratory, the technician uses a centrifuge to evaluate the hematocrit. It is the machine that spins at a very high rate. So, it results in the contents of the blood to separate. The technician adds a special type of anticoagulant to avoid blood clotting. The blood sample in the test tube taken out from the centrifuge settles into three parts:

  • Red Blood Cells
  • Plasma (the fluid part of the blood)
  • Anticoagulant
Separator Of Hematocrit
Separator Of Hematocrit

The different components get settled in different parts of the tube. The technician collects the red blood cells that collect at the bottom of the test tube. So, the collected red blood cells get compared to the normal guide. It evaluates the proportion of blood makeup.

Normal Hematocrit Level

It refers to the normal range of red blood cells your blood must have. Depending on the laboratory you get the blood tested, the ranges may vary. It is due to the fact that each lab has its own range. But, in most cases, the normal range depends on age as well as gender. But, the typical range often accepted are:

  • Men (Adults): 38.8%-50%
  • Women (Adults): 34.9%-44.5%

Children who are aged below fifteen years have a different set of ranges. It is due to the fact that the red blood cells levels can change as they grow rapidly. Therefore, the lab analyzing the blood results can determine the normal levels of the child. The high or low levels of the hematocrit indicate an underlying health issue. So, you can either experience low or high levels of hematocrit.

Low Levels Of Hematocrit

The low red blood cells indicate the presence of an underlying health condition. Some of the health issues that lower the hematocrit levels are:

  • Chronic Inflammatory Disease
  • Bone Marrow Disease
  • Kidney Failure
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Nutritional Deficiencies (Folate, B12 or Iron)
  • Hemolytic Anemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Sickle Cell Anemia

Symptoms Of Different Hematocrit Levels

Though each disease triggering the issue may have different symptoms, you can see some general symptoms.

Symptoms Of Low Hematocrit Levels

The common signs you can see with the low red blood cells in our body are:

  • Loss of energy
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Inability to perform specific exercises
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache with physical exertion
  • Pale skin
  • Dizziness
  • Leg cramps
  • Sleeping problems (insomnia)

Symptoms Of High Hematocrit Levels

Some health problems can trigger the high production of red blood cells. But, some other conditions can also enhance the red blood cells. You need to inform your doctor about pregnancy or blood transfusion. Pregnancy can increase the fluid levels in the body. So, it decreases the BUN (blood urea nitrogen). It affects the hematocrit test levels. The recent blood transfusion can also affect the hematocrit results. The reduced oxygen levels in the body can also affect the result. Therefore, people living at the high altitude can have high red blood cells. Your doctor needs to know the conditions before you take the test. In general, your hematocrit test gets compared to the CBC test. Your symptoms also gets assessed before diagnosing the problem. The following health condition can enhance the red blood cell levels in the body:

  • Dehydration
  • Kidney tumor
  • Polycythemia Vera
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Lung disease

General Symptoms Of Hematocrit Levels

The vague and general symptoms of the high blood cells. So, it can indicate several problems that you may not take seriously. It varies widely from person to person. At times, some people may have no signs at all. The common signs associated with the problem are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Easy to bruise
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Easy to bleed
  • Bone and joint pain (in most cases, pain in ribs or hip)
  • Blood clots formation (increasing risk of strokes, heart attacks, pulmonary embolism)

Treatment For Different Hematocrit Levels

Different underlying health conditions can trigger the variation in the hematocrit levels. So, the doctor first tries to understand the exact health condition causing the problem. Based on the underlying issues and the overall health of the patient, the doctor adopts the apt treatment plan. The slight higher or lower levels of the hematocrit does not require any medications or procedure. It resolves on its own. But, the high variations from the normal levels require immediate medical treatment to overcome the problem.

Low Hematocrit Level Treatment

The low levels of hematocrit require treatment to replenish the red blood cells in the blood. So, the following methods are opted according to the severity of your condition.

Iron Supplements

The doctor may suggest oral consumption or intravenous iron transfusions. So, the correct dose according to your health can enhance the levels. For children suffering from the inadequate hematocrit levels need iron supplements in liquid form. The iron supplements are often provided with other tablets for better absorption. So, your doctor can suggest taking the supplements in the following methods:

  • Taking Supplements On Empty Stomach

The iron tablets absorb quickly when taken on an empty stomach. Unfortunately, the iron tablets can upset the stomach when it is empty. So, most people cannot consume the tablets without having food. The doctor can suggest taking iron tablets with meals.

  • Avoid Antacids With Iron Supplements

Antacids are provided to give you relief from the heartburn. But, taking antacids along with iron supplements do not provide the specified result. It interferes with the iron absorption. Therefore, taking the iron tablets two before taking the antacids or after four hours after taking the antacids.

  • Vitamin C With Iron Supplements

Vitamin C can improve the absorption of the iron. So, your doctor can prescribe Vitamin C with iron supplements. You can take the iron supplements with vitamin C supplement or take it with orange juice. The combination can work better as it aids in better iron absorption in your body.

  • Side Effects Of Iron Supplements

Iron supplements have unwanted side-effects. It can harden the stools. So, you can experience constipation after taking the iron supplements. To prevent the unwanted problem, your doctor prescribes a stool softener. It can help you overcome constipation. Blackening of stool is another harmless side effect. You can ignore it as it has no influence on your overall health.

Duration Of Treatment

Iron supplements can stimulate red blood cells. It aids in the production by your bone marrow. But, it can take several months to replenish the iron reserves. So, do not expect a change in symptom overnight. Within a week, you can feel small changes as you will feel better. So, you can ask your doctor to recheck the iron levels. But, you have to continue taking the supplements for at least a year to get the hematocrit levels back to normal.

Blood Transfusion

Blood Transfusion

The very low hematocrit levels require a blood transfusion. So, you receive the blood from a donor that saves the life at times. It replaces the red blood cells and improves your symptoms quickly. It makes sure your organs get enough oxygen to all the vital organs. So, your doctor recommends the treatment option depending on the severity of the issue.

Erythropoietin Treatment

Erythropoietin Treatment

When your bone marrow produces a low amount of red blood cells, your doctor prescribes the treatment. Erythropoietin treatment is not common like other treatment option. So, your doctor suggests in specific cases only. The protein given as injection can trigger red blood cells production. It has some side-effects that you need to discuss before the treatment.

Home Remedies To Improve Low Hematocrit Levels

You can increase the hematocrit levels at home with some simple steps. It is most effective with the slightly low red blood cells levels. So, you can include the pointers in your life to see the difference.

Activities

Some physical activities can aid in red blood cell production. Therefore, include it in your daily routine to improve the production of red blood cells.

Food Items

You can consume some food items that can increase the red blood cells in your body. The main food items that increase the iron levels in the body are:

  • Almonds
  • Dried Fruits
  • Chickpeas
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Soybeans

You can also include vitamin C rich food. It aids in the absorption of iron b your body. So, include the fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C like:

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Orange
  • Kiwi

The addition of copper-rich food can also prevent the low red blood levels. it helps with the iron absorption and storage. So, take food that contains copper like:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Cashew
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Shiitake mushrooms

Treatment For High Hematocrit Levels

The severity of the high hematocrit levels differs from one patient to another. Therefore, the doctor decides the right treatment depending on your individual symptoms. With little or no symptoms, your doctor may not suggest any treatment. So, the doctor monitors you closely to watch the changes to come up with the best option. The ultimate aim is to lower the red blood cells in the body. It also prevents the blood clots and the other complications arising due to the problem. So, the different options are:

Phlebotomy

Phlebotomy

It is the first line of treatment the doctor opts. It is nothing but removing the excess red blood cells from your body. So, the doctor may remove the blood from the vein. It also closely resembles blood donation. The treatment aims to lower the red blood cells in your blood. The procedure can make the blood thinner. So, it flows with ease through your body. The procedure can ease signs like dizziness or a headache. The duration and frequency of the treatment depend on each individuals suffering from the issue. Therefore, your doctor can decide it. In most cases, you just need specific treatment options.

Low-Dose Aspirin

Aspirin
Source : Amazon.com

The doctor can also prescribe the low-dose aspirin. It can prevent blood platelets from sticking together. It also reduces your chances to get the blood clots. So, it can reduce the risk of getting strokes or heart attacks considerably. It is the simple treatment that reduces the complications and risks associated with the high hematocrit levels.

Home Remedies

You can reduce the hematocrit levels with some changes in your lifestyle. Including some steps can transform your health.

Physical Activities

Some physical activities can lower your blood cells levels. Including the following activities can trigger changes in your levels of red blood cells.

  • Endurance training
  • Scuba Diving
  • Marathon Running
Food

Including some food items can lower the red blood cell levels in the blood. You can include the following after consulting your doctor:

  • Milk
  • Caffeine
  • Bran

Your doctor decides the best treatment plan depending on your individual symptoms and issues. Therefore, the customized medication plan and other procedures aim to provide relief. In most cases, the doctor monitors the hematocrit levels with routine blood testing.

Conclusion

The hematocrit levels can detect the underlying health issues you may suffer. Getting it checked and monitored can prevent some major complications.

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