Normal Hemoglobin Levels-Low, High
Hemoglobin are the iron-containing protein molecules which are found in the red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen to the lungs and other body tissues. These molecules in return will carry the carbon dioxide taken from the cells. Normal hemoglobin levels should be maintained to keep the shape of the red blood cells and avoid any disruption in the blood flow.
Function of Hemoglobin
The main function of the hemoglobin is transporting and combining the oxygen taken by the lungs through inhalation to all the tissues in the body. After these reactions, carbon dioxide is produced and transported back into the lungs and released through exhalation.
As stated earlier a person should have normal hemoglobin levels for the red blood cells to fully function. A hemoglobin test which is a part of the complete blood cell count test is performed to determine the level of hemoglobin present in the blood. Several methods are used to measure the hemoglobin which is mostly done through an automated machine where it breaks down the red blood cells to expose the hemoglobin in a solution. The binding method of the solution and the hemoglobin is called cyanmethemoglobin and hemoglobin level is measured by shining a light into the solution. The amount of hemoglobin is determined through the amount of light absorbed.
Normal Hemoglobin Levels
Normal hemoglobin levels of a person vary depending on the age and gender of the person. The hemoglobin levels stated below are expressed through the amount of hemoglobin in grams (g) per deciliter (dl).
- Newborns: 17-22 g/dl
- Children: 11-13 g/dl
- Adult Men: 14-18 g/dl
- Adult Women: 12-16 g/dl
- Pregnant Women: 11-12 g/dl
These values are just average hemoglobin levels and may slightly differ for each laboratory.
Low Hemoglobin Levels
When hemoglobin level is lower than the normal hemoglobin levels, this simply means that the person is having low hemoglobin. A slight difference might be considered insignificant and may not show any symptoms. Lowering of hemoglobin levels might be of natural causes or due to some conditions and diseases. Normal lowering of hemoglobin count may be due to pregnancy and menstrual periods. Other causes due to diseases are as follows:
- Iron deficiency
- Lack of Vitamin B12 and Folate deficiency
- Bone marrow problem
- Aplastic anemia
- Some medications for HIV and chemotherapy
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lead poisoning
- Kidney disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndrome
Severe conditions and diseases that destroy red blood cell before they can reproduce:
- Enlarged spleen – a spleen is a vital organ that plays an important role with regards to red blood cells and the immune system
- Sickle cell anemia – an inherited condition which impairs the healthy red blood cells in carrying adequate oxygen throughout the body
- Porphyria – group of disorder that result to buildup of chemicals in the body
- Vasculitis – an inflammation in the blood vessels that may cause a hindrance in the smooth flow of blood especially at the affected area
- Thalassemia – is an inherited blood disorder which is characterized by low hemoglobin and red blood cells
Other temporary reasons for decreased hemoglobin levels are due to severe loss of blood from an accident or surgery and taking of medications that cause hemoglobin to decrease.
Symptoms of low hemoglobin are:
- Poor concentration
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Stools with blood
High Hemoglobin Levels
High hemoglobin level is mostly seen on people who live at high altitude places and those who smoke. Some possible causes of increase in the normal hemoglobin levels are:
- Emphysema –is a lung disease that destroys the exchange mechanism of the lungs that is responsible for the mixing of oxygen into the blood. When the body is supplied with insufficient oxygen it causes hemoglobin to rise up
- Polycythemia rubra vera – is a disease that causes proliferation on the number of red blood cells which also affects the level of hemoglobin
- Drugs that enhance performance
Symptoms of high hemoglobin levels are:
- Dysfunctional cognition
- Mental confusion
- Occurrence of a bluish color and visible mucous membranes in the skin (mostly on lips and fingertips)
- Sudden numbness
- Temporary loss of hearing and vision
An increase in the normal hemoglobin levels may sometimes indicate some metabolic problems. Symptoms stated above should not be ignored and must be checked for possibility of high hemoglobin level.
Treatment for High and Low Hemoglobin Levels
To treat an increase or decrease in hemoglobin level is to identify first the main source of changes in the hemoglobin. Medications and proper diet are recommended to get back the normal hemoglobin levels. But what’s more important is to detect and correct the problems immediately to avoid severe conditions.