Deciphering Your Complete Blood Picture

Deciphering Your Complete Blood Picture

One drop of blood can talk volumes about your body, its functioning and underlying illnesses, if any. From simple fevers to the highly dreaded HIV, blood tests can determine diseases very accurately. Except the doctor or the lab technician nobody else can decipher a blood test report. It isn’t rocket science too. Understanding a little bit about blood and its components can throw light on many aspects of the red colored life flowing in your body. Here, we give you a comprehensive summary of what exactly your complete blood picture means.

Apart from the blood cells, your doctor may also look into the blood chemistry profile. Sugar (glucose), Proteins, Fats, Enzymes and Electrolytes (calcium, magnesium and potassium) are also checked to see how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Complete blood count (CBC) – Human blood is made up of water, nutrients, living cells and even proteins. That is a why a slight dip in our blood count can be very dangerous for us. One of the most common lab tests, the complete blood count determines the count of the basic types of blood cells. Red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC) and platelets are the main blood cells.

  • RBC – These cells carry oxygen to various organs in the body and remove carbon-di-oxide. One part of the RBC that carries iron is called hemoglobin. Tests are conducted to measure either the hemoglobin count or the number of red blood cells (hematocrit). We become anemic when these levels drop.

  • WBC – White blood cells are the soldiers of our body. They fight all kinds of infection cells and maintain the overall health of the body. Neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes and monocytes are five different types of white cells. Depending upon the symptoms of a particular disease, the doctor investigates further into the count of each kind of white blood cells.

  • Platelets – These cells are extremely important in blood clotting. When the cell count is low, we bleed easily and become susceptible to an array of infections.

Every type of blood cell in our body has its own range. Any number that is above or below the normal range can cause disorders of the blood. The below table shows various ranges of the complete blood count.

TestNormal ValuesUnits
Red blood cells4.3 – 6.1X 1,000,000/mm3
White blood cells5 – 10X 1000/mm3
Hemoglobin13 – 15 (men), 11 – 14 (women)g/dL

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad