Blood test – inherit secrets of your health
“Haemoglobin disorders are inherited blood diseases that affect how oxygen is carried in the body.”
- WHO (World Health Organization)
Blood, the life stream of our body, make us feel live! ‘Blood test’ is the first diagnostic step for detecting any disease spreading within our body, for which the symptoms may or may not be apparent. Benefits of blood tests go far beyond disease treatment and prevention. Getting an annual blood test is the simplest yet important thing a person can do to prevent life-threatening diseases/disorders.
Hemoglobin – essence of blood
Human blood composes of three blood lines - Red blood cells (RBC) that carry oxygen to the body, white blood cells (WBC) fights infection and platelets are involved in clotting of the blood in response to an injury.
The most important component of RBC is hemoglobin (Hb) that gives red color to our blood. Hb is a protein that carries the oxygen and supplies it thought out the body, to help us work efficiently. Hemoglobin is made up of four protein molecules called globulin chains that are connected together.
Good health requires an adequate amount of hemoglobin. The amount of oxygen in the body depends on how much haemoglobin is there in the red cells. Without enough haemoglobin, the tissues lack oxygen and the heart and lungs start working harder to try to compensate. That is why, time to time, checking Hb level of the body is essential.
Normal haemoglobin ranges, widely accepted by physicians
Birth: 13.5 to 24.0 g/dl (mean 16.5 g/dl)
Age 1 month: 10.0 to 20.0 g/dl (mean 13.9 g/dl)
Age 1-2 months: 10.0 to 18.0 g/dl (mean 11.2 g/dl)
Age 2-6 months: 9.5 to 14.0 g/dl (mean 12.6 g/dl)
Age 0.5 to 2 years: 10.5 to 13.5 g/dl (mean 12.0 g/dl)
Age 2 to 6 years: 11.5 to 13.5 g/dl (mean 12.5 g/dl)
Age 6-12 years: 11.5 to 15.5 g/dl (mean 13.5)
Age 12-18 years: 12.0 to 16.0 g/dl (mean 14.0 g/dl)
Age >18 years: 12.1 to 15.1 g/dl (mean 14.0 g/dl)
Age 12-18 years: 13.0 to 16.0 g/dl (mean 14.5 g/dl)
Age >18 years: 13.6 to 17.7 g/dl (mean 15.5 g/dl)
*Normal values may vary depending upon the group of patients, however, the value ranges are close (vary by about 0.5 g/dl) for almost every group.
# Low haemoglobin usually means the person has anaemia. Main reason of anaemia is deficiency of Iron, folic acid, or vitamin B 12. Apart from these few more reason of anaemic condition are;
· Gastrointestinal blood loss (ulcers, colon cancer)
· Kidney problems
· Blood loss from wounds or surgery
· Red Blood cell synthesis problems i.e. bone marrow disorders or genetic disorders.
· Bone marrow suppression by chemotherapy or radiation exposure
Symptoms of Anaemia
Dizziness, Pale Skin, lack of concentration, leg cramps, fatigue and lose of energy, breathlessness, headache, unusually rapid heartbeat.
# High haemoglobin may be caused by polycythaemia Vera, a disease in which the formation of red blood cells are excessive.
Treatment of Low/High Haemoglobin
These two conditions can be treated by haemoglobin electrophoresis test that measures different types of haemoglobin in the bloodstream. The test helps discover the cause of the decrease or increase in Hb levels into the body. Haemoglobin electrophoresis also diagnoses diseases called hemoglobinopathies that involves abnormal haemoglobin production, such as sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia and polycythaemia. Of these, first two are genetic disorders that are carried by haemoglobin.
Inherited haemoglobin disorders
Sickle-cell disease can be described as a modification in the shape of the red blood cell from a smooth, donut-shape into a crescent or half-moon shape. The red cells become rigid and deformed and break down more readily. As these crescent shaped cells lack plasticity, they block small blood vessels disturbing the blood flow. This condition leads to subsequent anaemia, often called sickle-cell anaemia. Poor oxygen levels in the blood and blood vessel blockages in sickle-cell disease can lead to chronic pain, severe bacterial infections, and tissue damages.
Sickle-cell disease can be managed by simple procedures including:
· High fluid intake with healthy diet
· Folic acid supplementation
· Pain medication
· Vaccination and antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections
· A number of other therapeutic measures.
Thalassaemia is also inherited blood disorder. It causes abnormalities in the enzymes associated with haemoglobin that affect its affinity for oxygen. People with Thalassemia disorder do not form enough haemoglobin in the red blood cells, due to which oxygen cannot get to all parts of the body. As a result, body organs unable to function properly. There are two major types of thalassaemia, alpha and beta, which are named for the two protein chains that make up normal hemoglobin. Alpha and beta thalassaemia have both mild and severe forms.
· Inherited from genes, passed from either parent to children
· Abnormal production of haemoglobin
· If one or more of the four alpha genes are missing or mutated
· If one or both of the beta chain genes are mutated
Symptoms of Thalassemia
Fatigue, weakness, Dark Urine, Pale appearance, yellow discoloration of skin, abdominal swelling, Facial bone deformities
Thalassemia major requires:
· Regular blood transfusions to maintain an adequate supply of hemoglobin and sustain life. Though multiple blood transfusions severely overload body organs with iron and specific treatment is needed to manage this condition.
· Thalassemia can be cured by a successful bone-marrow transplant, which is an expensive procedure and can be made available only on doctor’s recommendations.
· Gene therapy has been recently introduced for thalassemia patients.
Effective management of blood disorders
Reliable blood tests can help identify, couples at risk for having affected children. Haemoglobin disorders are inherited from parents. Sickle-cell disease and thalassemia major can occur only when both parents are carriers of the trait genes. A child who inherits two of the same trait genes - one from each parent, will be born with the disease. This screening should be done especially before marriage or pregnancy, allowing couples to discuss the health of their family or else the condition may be passed along to their children.
Regular blood tests can not only help in identifying these haemoglobin disorders but also root cause of various diseases, infections and health issues. For effective management of health opt for regular blood check-ups.
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