Haemoglobin is a protein in the red blood cells that is very rich in iron. Oxygen which enters the lung will be attached to haemoglobin inside the blood.
Whenever someone seems to be experiencing shortage of red blood cells, the body will not have adequate amount of energy in order to function properly. Anaemia is what this condition is referred to as. It can also occur when the red blood cells aren’t functioning properly.
We will be discussing haemoglobin and its functions. You will also learn how test can be carried out on it inside the blood. Furthermore, the various types of anaemia will be examined in details with a view to suggesting ways in which they can be prevented.
What actually is haemoglobin?
Every haemoglobin protein carries about 4 oxygen molecules. The red blood cells are responsible for delivering these all through the body. The body contains billions of cells and these all need oxygen for the purpose of constant repair and maintenance.
Haemoglobin is also very important when it comes to enabling the red blood cells get their shapes (disc – like) thereby promoting easy movement in the blood vessels.
Testing of haemoglobin levels
In order to know how hemoglobin normal levels are measured, blood test is used. Hb or haemoglobin is always measured in g/dl (in grams/ decilitre) or blood. When haemoglobin levels are low, such can be interpreted to mean low oxygen level.
In US, anaemia is usually diagnosed when a blood test is below 13.5 in grams per decilitre and 12.5 in grams per decilitre for both men and women respectively. In the case of children, there are variations based on age.
High haemoglobin levels
When hemoglobin normal levels are high, such can also indicate the presence of polycythemia which is a rare blood disease. It can cause the body to be producing red blood cells excessively. It can also make the blood become thicker in an unusual way thereby leading to stroke, heart attacks and clot. This is an abnormal condition that can be life threatening especially when not given medical attention.
Dehydration can also be due to high levels of haemoglobin. Other conditions that it can cause are living at high altitudes or smoking, heart and lungs diseases.
Low levels of haemoglobin
When hemoglobin normal levels are low, such can be an indication of anaemia. It should be noted that anaemia can be of various types.
The most common of them is iron – deficiency anaemia. It occurs when there seems to be shortage of iron inside the body. In this case, haemoglobin that is needed can’t be produced. Blood loss is what usually causes anaemia but when iron is poorly absorbed, it can also be experienced. This usually takes place whenever someone seems to be experiencing gastric by-pass surgery.
Pregnancy – related anaemia happens to be that type where iron is deficient. This occurs as a result of childbirth and pregnancy requiring iron in significant amount.
Vitamin – deficiency anaemia is when nutrient level seems to be very low in the diet. These could be Folate (folic acid), vitamin B12. They can alter the red blood cells’ shape thereby reducing their effectiveness.
Aplastic anaemia happens to be that form of disorder whereby the immune system begins to attack blood – forming stem cells inside the bone marrow. This will bring about blood cells being few.
Haemolytic anaemia is inherited or as a result of other conditions. Its occurrence is a result of red blood cell breakdown in the spleen or bloodstream.
Sickle cell anaemia occurs due to the presence of abnormal haemoglobin protein. It simply implies that red blood cells will be sickle – shaped as well as rigid. This makes them not to flow through smaller blood vessels.
There are other conditions that can bring about anaemia like cancer, chemotherapy, kidney disease. Cancer is capable of hindering the body from producing red blood cells.
Newborns that are about 6 to 8 weeks old do have temporary anaemia. Its occurrence will be due to shortage of red blood cells which they were born with. During this time, new blood cells will be made. Unless the baby is sick due to other conditions, it may not be affected by this form of anaemia.
When cells are completely breaking down, babies can possibly suffer from anaemia. This can being about a condition called jaundice. It can also happen when the blood types of the baby and mother aren’t compatible.
Some obvious symptoms of when symptoms when hemoglobin is low are:
- Chest pain
- Yellow skin or pale
- Cold feet and hands
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
It should be noted that symptoms when hemoglobin is low will vary amongst individuals sometimes.
There is every chance of suffering from anaemia when there is lack of iron in diets. Vigorous exercise can also increase the risk thereby bringing about red blood cells breaking down inside the bloodstream. Anaemia can also be suffered by women that are in their menstrual cycles.
Chronic health conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disease, liver disease, autoimmune conditions, have been discovered to bring about lower levels of haemoglobin. This will eventually lead to increased chances of anaemia occurring.
When more oxygen is needed in the body, haemoglobin levels will likely increase. Those that are suffering from kidney or lung disease, smokers, dehydration can experience increase in haemoglobin levels.
Although most forms of anaemia can’t be prevented, consumption of foods that are rich in iron can help. These could be nuts, dried fruits, leafy vegetables, and beef.
Diary and meat are great Vitamin B12 sources. Citrus juices, fortified cereals, and legumes can be gotten from folic acid.
It has been recommended that nutritional anaemia can be prevented through daily multivitamins.
Treatment of anaemia can vary based on causes. Diet changes will be of great help most especially when patients are suffering from vitamin or iron deficiencies.
Once there is a condition leading to such anaemia, it can be alleviated through treatment of such disease.
Polycythemia doesn’t have any cure. Rather, it can only be managed through medication.
Sickle cell disease happens to a condition that can be life threatening. Hematopoietic stem cell transplant is its only cure. Available treatments can help to enhance the life of patients through reduction of their symptoms.
Generally speaking, symptoms when hemoglobin is low will always bring about treatment after proper diagnosis has been carried out.