Inside a Blood Test: The Cbc

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       Many people leave their doctor’s office with a script in hand for some sort of lab test. From checking cholesterol levels to sugar numbers for diabetics, labs are used by physicians to flesh out a picture of your health.  When being examined in the office, a picture develops of what is going on. By using diagnostics such as labs, this picture gains shape, color, and depth. Blood work helps the doctor with diagnosing what ails you and in treatment of chronic problems.

       One of the most common blood tests that nurses such as myself use for patient care is the complete blood count (CBC). the CBC provides a quick overview of many aspects of a person’s health. The information gained can give doctors and nurses important directions to go for developing a plan for your care.  Here is a run down of the  main components of the CBC:

  • White Blood Cells

  • Red Blood Cells

  • Hemoglobin

  • Hematocrit

  • Platelets

  •  Several other values including cell shape, volume, and color

White blood Cells are part of the immune system. These cells travel in the blood stream and attack foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Elevated counts indicate an infection.

Red Blood Cells: These may be thought of as the trucks of the body, as oxygen is carried from the lungs where it comes to the blood stream out to the tissues of the body. This type of cells are red because of iron  present in the cell’s protein hemoglobin, which actually carries the oxygen molecule itself.

Hemoglobin: Here is a measuement of the blood’s ability to carry all important oxygen to the tissues of the body.  Anemias and bleeding are monitored with especial attention to this value.

Hematocrit: This is an actual percentage of red cells found in the blood sample as a whole. It goes hand in hand with hemoglobin. Changes are noted by doctors and nurses with bleeding, dehydration, and other conditions.

Platelets: Extremely tiny bodies measued in tens or hundreds of thousands. Platelets help to curb bleeding through a clumping action. Platelet values may be off in people  with hepatitis or blood diseases.

There are several other indicators including size ,volume, and shape of red cells that are used for diagnosing and treating different anemia types.

The CBC is a ueful, frequently ordered blood test that is pretty much universal. It must be remembered that these results are frequently used for comparison to past or future CBCs. The doctor wants to get a better idea of what is happening, or what has not changed.  This is a piece of your puzzle, since figuring out what is actually ailing you is the most difficult aspect of care. 

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