The complete blood count (CBC) is a screening test, used to diagnose and manage numerous diseases. It can reflect problems with fluid volume (such as dehydration) or loss of blood. It can show abnormalities in the production, life span, and destruction of blood cells. It can reflect acute or chronic infection, allergies, and problems with clotting.
The CBC test isolates and counts the 7 types of cells found in the blood: neutrophil, eosinophil, basophil, red blood cell, lymphocyte, monocyte, and platelet.
Normal values vary with altitude and gender.
What abnormal results may mean:
Low numbers of red blood cells may indicate anemia, which has many causes including:
- Blood loss
- Iron deficiency
- Deficiences of vitamin B12 or folic acid
- Bone marrow failure (for example, from radiation, toxin, fibrosis, tumor)
- Erythropoietin deficiency (secondary to kidney disease)
- Hemolysis (RBC destruction)
- Multiple myeloma
- Over hydration
Low numbers of white blood cells (leukopenia) may indicate:
- Bone marrow failure (for example, due to granuloma (granular tumor), tumor, or fibrosis)
- Presence of cytotoxic substance
- Collagen-vascular diseases (such as lupus erythematosus)
- Disease of the liver or spleen
- Radiation exposure
High numbers of white blood cells (leukocytosis) may indicate:
- Infectious diseases
- Inflammatory disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis or allergy)
- Severe emotional or physical stress
- Tissue damage (for example, burns)
A high hematocrit may indicate:
- Polycythemia vera
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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