CBC Explained: How to Understand Your Complete Blood Count

A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test that your doctor may order to get an in-depth examination of your health. 

If you’re looking to take control and improve your health, it’s important that you have an understanding of what exactly a CBC measures. That’s why today, we’ve got a complete CBC explained guide to help you understand what a Complete Blood Count test is and where your test results should be.

Are you looking to learn more about how to understand your complete blood count? We’ve created a complete guide to help you understand. Keep reading to learn more!

CBC Explained: What Is a Complete Blood Count?

A complete blood count test is often called a CBC test. This blood test provides a medical professional with an important look at the health of one’s blood. The information that a CBC test provides professionals can help lead to a diagnosis of cancer, an infection, anemia, and other health conditions.

A CBC test measures the white blood cells, the red blood cells, and the blood platelets found in your blood. This is one of the most commonly ordered blood tests, as it’s a great way for doctors to take a peek into your overall health without excessive testing.

What Biomarkers Are Measured? 

Fifteen biomarkers are measured with a Complete Blood Count test. Here are the biomarkers that are measured and what they each mean for your health:

Red Blood Cell Count

Red blood cells are the most plentiful type of cell found in your blood. Surprisingly, nearly half of the volume of your blood is comprised of red blood cells.

The primary function of the red blood cell is to gather up oxygen from the lungs, move it through your body, and leave it with your tissues. What makes red blood cells so unique is that they have hemoglobin, which is a protein that carries iron.

Thanks to the hemoglobin found in your red blood cells, it can saturate themselves with oxygen and release it the tissues in your body that need it the most. Keeping a healthy balance of red blood cells is incredibly essential for your body to function normally. 

The red blood cell count detects the number of red blood cells that are in your blood. In addition, this test also shows how much oxygen your blood cells have the potential to carry.

If your red blood cell count is low, it could be a sign that your red blood cells are breaking down at an unsustainable rate. It could also be a sign that your red blood cells aren’t being produced fast enough. When your red blood cells aren’t being produced quickly enough, it’s a sign that your body is lacking specific nutrients.

A healthy range for an RBC count in females is 3.80-5.10 million/uL and in males 4.20-5.80 million/uL, as reported by Quest.

Hemoglobin

Hemoglobin is vital to the red blood cell. The Complete Blood Count measures the amount of hemoglobin found in your blood, as well as how much oxygen your red blood cells can carry.

For females, a standard range of hemoglobin is 11.7-15.5 g/dL. For men, a healthy range is between 13.2.0-17.1 g/dL, as reported through Quest.

Hematocrit

Hematocrit biomarker identifies how much blood as a percentage comes from red blood cells. It also is an indicator of how much oxygen your blood can carry. When your hematocrit levels are balanced, your body’s physical performance is increased.

Plus, healthy levels of hematocrit can help to ensure the health of your cardiovascular system, which can reduce your risk of having a stroke.

For men, a healthy level of hematocrit is between 38.5% to 50%, while a healthy level for women is between 35% and 45%, as reported through Quest.

MCV

MCV is an abbreviation of the term mean corpuscular volume. Mean corpuscular volume measures the size of your red blood cells. Discovering the size of your red blood cells is important, as it’s an indicator of how much oxygen your cells can carry.

Small red blood cells can be a tool in diagnosing an iron deficiency. In contrast, large red blood cells show that your body has the capability of carrying a more substantial amount of hemoglobin.

A normal range will fall between 80 to 100 femtoliters.

MCH

MCH is an abbreviation of the term mean corpuscular hemoglobin. MCH is one of the ways that is used to discover the average amount of hemoglobin that’s in one red blood cell. Often paired with MCHC, this biomarker is used to find out the potential for the average red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen throughout your body.

You must keep in mind that MCH is simply an average. However, the normal range is between 27 to 33 picograms, as reported by Quest.

MCHC

MCHC is an abbreviation of the term mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration. This is another biomarker used to discover how much hemoglobin is available in a single red blood cell.

You also should keep in the back of your mind that MCHC is an average. A healthy range for the MCHC test is between 32-36 g/dL, as reported by Quest.

RDW

RDW stands for _red blood cell distribution width. _This biomarker shows how unvarying the volume of your red blood cells is. The higher your RDW is is a sign that there’s a significant dissimilarity among your red blood cells.

An iron deficiency, chronic inflammation, or a nutritional imbalance can contributing factors for a high RDW.

For males and females, a healthy RDW is between 11% to 15%, as reported by Quest.

Platelet Count

Platelets are the cells in your blood that are responsible for making sure that your blood can stick together enough to form a blood clot.

A healthy platelet count should range between 140-400 thousand/uL, as reported by Quest.

MPV

MPV is an abbreviation of the term _mean platelet volume. _This test measures the average size of the platelets that are found in your blood.

When your MPV levels are marked as high, it means that platelets are at a larger size than the average persons. This elevation could be a sign that your body is producing too many platelets.

If your MPV levels have been marked as low, it could mean that your body is destroying platelets too soon. As a result, your bone marrow is producing platelets too quickly.

White Blood Cell Differential Count

The white blood cell differential count is a summary of the different types of white blood cells that are found in your bloodstream. With the review of leukocytes, neutrophil, lymphocytes, basophils, monocytes, and eosinophils, you’ll be provided with an in-depth look at your immune system.  

The Five Different Types of WBC:

Separate from your red blood cells, white blood cells are also tested during a CBC test. Five different types of white blood cells are found in your bloodstream and include leukocytes, neutrophils, lymphocytes, basophils, and eosinophils.

Leukocytes

White blood cells are called leukocytes, which play a vital role in maintaining the healthy functioning of your immune system. This biomarker is your white blood cell count, which is also often called your leukocyte count.

A healthy range for your WBC is between 3.8-10.8 Thousand/uL, as reported by Quest.

Neutrophils

Neutrophils are the most commonly found white blood cells in your blood, making for about 70% of the white blood cells found in your body. They’re the first response your body uses to fight against any infections that enter your bloodstream.

When low levels of neutrophil are found in your blood, it may be a sign that your body is fighting against a viral infection. Another cause of low neutrophil levels in your blood is a sign that your body is adapting to the stress it’s been under while you’re training to become an endurance athlete.

A healthy level of neutrophils is between 1500-7800 cells/uL, as reported by Quest.

Lymphocytes

Lymphocytes represent between 20% to 40% of the white blood cells circulating throughout your blood. This white blood cell is acting as a wall of protection against the constant beratement of bacteria and infections introduced to your body.

When there’s a high amount of lymphocytes found in your blood, it’s a sign that your body may have a bacterial infection or that it’s your body response to acute stress.

A healthy range of lymphocytes is between 850-3900 cells/uL, as reported by Quest.

Basophils

Along with eosinophils, basophils are the least common type of white blood cells. If an increased amount of basophil cells are found in your bloodstream, it’s a sign that your body could be fighting against an allergic reaction or an infection from a parasite.

A healthy level of basophils should be between 0-200 cells/uL, as reported by Quest.

Eosinophils

As another uncommon white blood cell, eosinophils are responsible for how your body reacts when you have an allergic reaction. High levels of eosinophils are a sign that your body is fighting off a type of infection.

A normal range of eosinophil is between 15-500 cells/uL, as reported by Quest.

Monocytes

This type of white blood cell is responsible for fighting off viruses, fungi, and bacteria. In terms of size, they’re the largest white blood cell that is found in your bloodstream.

Formed in your bone marrow, this type of white blood cell is the first responder when there is a specific type of bacteria or germ that enters your body. They also play a large part in making sure that any damaged tissue is repaired correctly.

A healthy range of monocytes is between 200-950 cells/uL, as reported by Quest.

What Health Problems Can Be Identified by a CBC?

When the doctor orders a CBC, it may just be part of the physical exam preventative care that you’re getting. The results of the biomarkers will provide your doctor with a better insight into how many blood cells that are in your body, how they’re shaped, and how they’re functioning.

If there is a concern for many health conditions, a Complete Blood Count is a useful tool to use to eliminate the concern of any potential health conditions, as well as being helpful to diagnose health conditions.

Besides a physical exam, your doctor may order a complete blood count test if you have reported: 

  • Feeling sick
  • Have had a fever
  • Showing other signs of a possible infection, such as swollen lymph nodes
  • Feeling weak
  • Easy bruising
  • Excessive bleeding or your blood takes a while to clot
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Take medications that could affect your blood count

Here’s a list of conditions that your CBC test could help you and your doctor to identify: 

  • Anemia
  • Certain forms of cancer
  • Mineral deficiencies
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Inflammation
  • Dehydration
  • Heart disease
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Infection
  • Bone marrow complications

If your doctor ordered this blood test and you were looking to have CBC explained, we hope that we were able to provide you with a better understanding. The results from a CBC blood test can be beneficial when your doctor is trying to rule out or diagnose a health condition.  

The Importance of a CBC Test

If you need help understanding the health of your blood, we’d love to help. We offer the CBC lab test as part of our selection of 1,500 lab tests, and we provide explanations on each biomarker.

You can select your lab tests, order directly online, choose a convenient patient service center near you, and review your test results typically in 1 to 2 days after your blood is collected.

Take charge of your health and get tested today at UltaLabTests.com/Shop.