I Have High Red Blood Cell, Is It Ok?

Q:

My doctor told me that my red blood cell count is high. He asked me to go back next week for further examinations. I don’t understand, why do I have high blood cell? Isn’t it a good thing?

A:

Sometimes high red blood cell count is due to dehydration, when the liquid component in the plasma decreases,  the red blood cells concentrates more. In this case the actual number of red blood cells doesn’t change.

There are other causes to high RBC though, and these are worth attention.

  • Low oxygen levels

Red blood cells transport oxygen from your lungs to tissues throughout your body. When the body is in low oxygen level, it produces more red blood cells to compensate. In this case, doctors need to find out the cause of low oxygen level, the potential causes include heart disease, heart failure, hemoglobinopathy, high altitudes, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, sleep apnea, nicotine dependence, and other lung diseases.

  • Drugs

Certain drugs, usually performance-enhancing drugs stimulate the production of red blood cells, including anabolic steroids, blood doping (transfusion), injections of a protein (erythropoietin) that enhances red blood cell production.

  • Kidney disease

In some kidney cancers and sometimes after kidney transplants, the kidneys might produce too much erythropoietin. This enhances red blood cell production. But this occurs rarely.

  • Bone marrow overproduction

It can be polycythemia vera, or other myeloproliferative disorders.

Polycythemia vera is a disorder of blood-producing cells of the bone marrow that results in over-producing of red blood cells. People may feel tired and weak, light-headed, or short of breath, or show symptoms caused by blood clots.

 

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.