The complete blood count or CBC is a type of blood test that can act as a measure of the overall health of an individual. It can be used to detect a wide range of disorders, like infection, anaemia and leukaemia. The complete blood count would measure several components of the blood, like:
- Haemoglobin – the protein in the red blood cells that carry oxygen
- White blood cells – fight infections and foreign particles
- Red blood cells – carry oxygen
- Hematocrit – the proportion of the red blood cells to the plasma or the fluid component in the blood
- Platelets – which help blood to clot
Any abnormal change in the count of these cells would be revealed would be revealed through the complete blood count. This would reveal that you are having an underlying condition which would need further evaluation.
Why is the CBC blood test conducted?
The CBC blood test is quite common and can be conducted for varying reasons:
- Review the overall health – A complete blood count might be recommended by the doctor as a part of a routine medical examination. This can monitor the general health and screen a variety of disorders, like leukaemia or anaemia.
- Diagnose an underlying medical condition – The doctor often suggests this test if the victim is experiencing fever, inflammation, fatigue, weakness, bleeding or bruising. The complete blood count can help to diagnose the cause and symptoms of the signs. The test can help confirm the diagnosis if the doctor suspects that there is an infection.
- Monitor a medical condition – The doctor might need to use the test to monitor the condition of the patient if the disorder affects the counts of the blood cells.
- Monitor the treatment – The complete blood count would monitor the health if the medications affect the blood cell counts.
The lipid profile test is also similar considering it checks the levels of all the different types of cholesterol in the body.
The complete blood count is not a definitive test
The CBC Blood Test is not a definitive test and does not diagnose you of a certain medical condition. The doctor might recommend the test depending on a certain reason. The results might vary outside the normal range. The doctor needs to look at the results of the CBC along with other tests. This means additional tests are necessary. The triple marker test, for instance, would check the health status of a foetus, depending on the level of 3 substances in the placenta.
If you are healthy and the results vary a little from normal, there would not be any reason to perform a follow-up. If the results are significantly below the normal range or above it, the doctor might refer you to a haematologist, who specializes in blood disorders.
What might be indicated by the results?
There might be a problem if the results vary from normal in the following areas:
- Haemoglobin, hematocrit and RBC count – The results are related because they measure the aspects of the red blood cells. If the measures are lower than normal, then you might be suffering from anaemia. This can cause weakness and fatigue. A higher than normal RBC count, called erythrocytosis could point to heart diseases.
- WBC count – A low count could be because of an autoimmune disorder which destroys the cells. They could also be because of problems in the bone marrow or cancer. The condition is known as leukopenia. If the count is high, it would mean that there is an infection or inflammation.
- Platelet count – Counts lower or higher than normal would generally mean that it is a side effect of the medication.
The CBC blood test would generally reveal any abnormality and give a proper health status report.