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What is Your Complete Blood Count and Why Does it Matter?

Next Health Staff | | 0 comments

What is Your Complete Blood Count and Why Does it Matter?

There are a lot of ways you can gain an idea of your overall physical health, including baseline tests, dietary tests and allergy tests, and testing for your complete blood count.

A person’s complete blood count can usually only be gleaned with an in-depth CBC test. Fortunately, clinics like Next|Health provides CBC tests for their patients, which can then tell them how many red blood cells they have, what types of white blood cells are most common in their bodies, and more.

Not sure whether your complete blood count matters or if it's a good test for your needs? Let's take a closer look at what complete blood count is and why it matters for your health.

What is a Complete Blood Count (CBC) Test?

A complete blood count or CBC test is a kind of overview test performed when an appropriate clinic like Next|Health draws blood from a patient and examines a variety of biomarkers and blood cell types in the sample. Biomarkers can be anything from hormones to white blood cells to minerals and more.

In general, a complete blood count test measures the different types of blood cells in a person instead of other types of biomarkers. From the sample, blood cell type counts are gathered from a small sample. Total counts are then extrapolated for the rest of the patient’s body. Although using just a small amount of blood, this type of blood test can help detect hundreds of conditions, disorders and infections

CBC tests are usually analyzed on-site but must be sent to laboratory environments to be evaluated thoroughly before you and your wellness expert can dive deep into the results.

What Types of Blood Cells Are Tested?

The most thorough types of CBC tests will try to determine the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells (rbc) are the most common in your body. Also called erythrocytes, these blood cells are produced in your bone marrow and contain hemoglobin: the key protein that transports oxygen throughout your body to various tissues.

Most blood cells have a lifespan of 120 days, so your body has to constantly produce more of them. Most rbcs are pretty similar in size and shape, although red blood cell shape can be affected by conditions like magnesium deficiency, vitamin deficiencies, or anemia.

Your body needs a lot of red blood cells in order to function properly. A low red blood cell count could indicate an underlying condition that you may need the assistance of a physician to deal with. But it could also indicate other things, such as long-term fatigue, lack of dietary balance, and more.

White Blood Cells

Your body’s white blood cells, called leukocytes, are specialized blood cells produced to fight off infectious diseases and viruses. They exist in both your blood and individual tissues, as well as the lymphatic system.

White blood cells are primarily focused on triggering or stopping inflammation, allergic reactions, and other bodily defenses. Technically, there are five types of white blood cells: neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils, basophils, and monocytes. Some CBC tests can also count the numbers of white blood cell types.

When they are healthy, most people have relatively stable numbers of white blood cells present throughout their bodies. But white blood cell counts (wbc) can spike if there is a detected infection or disease, or if a person is susceptible to allergic reactions. Low wbc's (leukopenia) may be caused by an autoimmune disorder that destroys white blood cells, bone marrow problems or even cancer. A CBC test will ensure that your body has enough white blood cells for general wellness.

Platelets

Blood platelets are technically not full cells by themselves but are instead tiny cell fragments also called thrombocytes. These blood platelets circulate throughout your blood and are key pieces in the blood clotting process, which prevents you from bleeding out when you get a simple cut.

In essence, blood platelets stick to an injury site and clump together to plug the injury, preventing over-bleeding. Furthermore, blood platelets release certain chemical signals that can attract additional platelets to help the body begin the healing process.

Certain individuals may have conditions or diseases that cause low blood platelet levels. A CBC test can detect this and help you work to correct it over time.

What Does a CBC Test Include?

It depends on your CBC test provider, but most CBC tests are performed using automated instruments. These can examine certain parameters like cell counts or the physical components of your red blood cells.

Next|Health’s and other standard complete blood count tests include:

  • Counts of red blood cells in the given sample, which can then be extrapolated to predict full blood cell count throughout the body (Mean corpuscular volume (MCV).
  • Hemoglobin measurements, which is used to reaffirm the red blood cell count (Mean corpuscular hemoglobin, MCH, is a measure of the average amount of hemoglobin per red blood cell).
  • Red blood cell features or physical attributes.
  • Hematocrit measurements, which track the percentage of your total blood volume that is made of red blood cells (high hematocrit may be due to dehydration from severe diarrhea, or kidney disease).
  • White blood cell counts.
  • White blood cell differentials, which indicate how many of each type of white blood cell you have in your body.
  • Blood platelet counts to monitor a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) and high platelet count (thrombocytosis).
  • The mean platelet volume or MPV, which is a measurement of the average size of your blood platelets.

It’s a lot of information, but it can provide your healthcare provider or wellness specialist with additional information they can use to maximize your fitness and health.

When Do You Need a Complete Blood Count?

So, the big question is this – why does getting your complete blood count matter overall?

In a nutshell, your complete blood count can give your physician or wellness specialist some insight into your body’s normal physical processes or current health levels. 

A CBC test can also indicate certain underlying or chronic conditions that may be affecting your health or that have not yet produced lots of noticeable symptoms.

For example, you may have sickle-cell anemia if you are frequently tired or suffer from other sickle-cell anemia symptoms. A complete blood count test can detect this condition because it checks for both the quantity and appearance of red blood cells in your body.

Additionally, a complete blood count can determine how many white blood cells you have and what types are most common in your body. This can also be effective for determining whether you are experiencing a long-term allergic reaction or have a condition like an autoimmune disease.

Bottom line: a complete blood count can be helpful both for determining your baseline health and for checking symptoms that you may have, such as weakness, fatigue, or bruising. Abnormal increases or decreases in cell counts revealed in a cbc and may indicate that you have an underlying medical condition that calls for further evaluation. 

What Things Can a CBC Test Detect?

When done properly, a CBC can detect a wide variety of conditions, disorders, or attributes that you may not have been aware of before. Here are a few examples:

  • Anemia, which indicates that there aren’t enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to all of your body’s tissues.
  • Disorders like sickle-cell anemia or thalassemia.
  • Bone marrow disorders like myelodysplastic syndrome. 
  • Various types of cancer including lymphoma and leukemia.
  • Whether there are side effects from chemotherapy or intense prescription. medications.
  • Infections or viruses that could lower your white blood cell count or indicate a higher white blood cell count.
  • Mineral or vitamin deficiencies.

As you can see, a complete blood cell count can be very beneficial when the results are provided to your primary physician or when they are used in conjunction with wellness efforts or regimens. 

In many cases, a CBC test can help narrow down a chronic condition or disorder you may be suffering from if it shares symptoms with other known disorders.

Where to Get a CBC Test

You can get a complete blood count at a doctor’s office or a professional clinic, or you can visit a wellness clinic like Next|Health. At Next|Health, we provide a baseline test that not only checks for blood cell counts but also a variety of other bodily features and attributes, including the concentrations of certain vitamins and minerals or hormone levels throughout the body.

In many cases, you will automatically get a CBC test when you are admitted to the hospital and when your doctor is checking for certain conditions like those mentioned above. You may also get a CBC test in preparation for surgery.

If you want to know more about the types of baseline tests we can provide at Next|Health, don’t hesitate to contact us today or check out our site for more information.

Summary

A complete blood count is a valuable test that physicians and wellness specialists at Next|Health can be used to learn more about your body and its unique needs, to determine ideal therapy choices, and to detect any underlying conditions that might be affecting you.

In conjunction with other baseline tests, a CBC test can help you understand your body more fully and ensure that your wellness efforts are as successful as possible.

Want to learn more about how Next|Health can help you reach your fitness and wellness goals? Check out our online site or visit one of our clinics today!



Sources:

Definition of complete blood count - NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms | Cancer.gov

What are Biomarkers? | NCBI

Heart and Vascular What are Platelets and Why are They Important? | Hopkins Medicine

Definition of white blood cell - NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms | Cancer.gov

Complete Blood Count | CDC

Complete Blood Count (CBC) Test | HHMA.org