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Hemoglobin

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Overview
Interpreting Results
FAQ's
Hemoglobin

Overview of Hb

What is Hb?

Hemoglobin is an iron-containing protein which is found in the Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and carries oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues. The hemoglobin test measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood.

Why is Hb done?

  • To detect anemia

  • To detect Hb levels before and after blood transfusion

  • To monitor the response to treatment of anemia or polycythemia

  • If you have a family history of an inherited blood disorder

  • In case of excessive blood loss from an injury or surgical procedure




What does Hb Measure?

The hemoglobin test measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood.

Hemoglobin (Hb) is a protein found in red blood cells (RBCs) that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues, and to exchange the oxygen for carbon dioxide. Hemoglobin then carries the carbon dioxide back to the lungs and where it is exchanged for oxygen. Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin. Most blood cells, including red blood cells, are produced regularly in your bone marrow (present within the cavities of many of large bones). To produce hemoglobin and red blood cells, your body needs iron, vitamin B12, folate and other nutrients from the foods you eat.

A decrease in hemoglobin concentration in blood results in anemia. Anemia is a blood disorder characterized by a decrease in the total amount of red blood cells (RBCs) or hemoglobin in the blood or a lowered ability of the blood to carry oxygen to body organs and tissues. Anemia is the most common blood disorder, affecting about a third of the global population and can cause symptoms like tiredness (fatigue), weakness, shortness of breath etc.

The hemoglobin test is usually performed as a part of complete blood count (CBC) test.

Preparation for Hb

  • No special preparation required

Sample Type for Hb

The sample type collected for Hemoglobin is: Blood

Interpreting Hb results

Interpretations

Low hemoglobin levels may be seen in:

  • Different types of anemia

  • Thalassemia

  • Iron deficiency

  • Liver disease

  • Cancer and other diseases


High hemoglobin levels may be seen in:

  • Lung disease

  • Heart disease

  • Polycythemia vera, a disorder in which your body makes too many red blood cells. It can cause headaches, fatigue, and shortness of breath

  • People living in high altitude area


Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hb

Frequently Asked Questions about Hemoglobin

Q. Can a healthy diet help in keeping my hemoglobin levels near normal?
Yes, a well balanced diet can help in keeping the hemoglobin levels optimally since iron, vitamin B12 and folate are the most important causes of anemia.
Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood from a blood vessel in your arm. The healthcare provider will tie an elastic band around your arm to make the blood vessels swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You will feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected will then be sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
Q. What are the symptoms of Anemia?
Many people having anemia are unaware of it as the symptoms can be minor. The symptoms can be because of any underlying cause or the anemia itself. The symptoms of anemia usually include some of the following: Pale skin, Weakness, Shortness of breath, Fainting, Palpitations, Chest pain, Restless legs syndrome. On examination, the signs exhibited may include pallor (pale skin, lining mucosa, conjunctiva and nail beds), but this is not a reliable sign.
Q. What are the causes of Anemia?
The causes of anemia may be classified as impaired red blood cell (RBC) production, increased RBC destruction (hemolytic anemias), blood loss and fluid overload (hypervolemia).
Q. What is Iron deficiency anemia?
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia overall and it has many causes. Iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient dietary intake or absorption of iron to meet the body's needs. Infants, toddlers, and pregnant women have higher than average needs. Increased iron intake is also needed to offset blood losses due to digestive tract issues, frequent blood donations, or heavy menstrual periods. Bleeding or blood loss, usually from the gastrointestinal tract is another cause. Worldwide, the most common cause of iron deficiency anemia is a parasitic worm infestation.
Q. What additional tests your doctor may order in case of an abnormal test result?
Your doctor may order the following tests in case of abnormal results : Transferrin, Complete Blood Count, Iron Studies, Serum Transferrin, Serum Iron, Total Iron Binding Capacity, Protein Total, Serum Ferritin
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