Red blood cells are also knowns as erythrocytes. They help deliver oxygen to tissues in the body, which gets converted into energy, and the tissues release carbon dioxide. The red blood cells also carry carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs for expulsion from the body.
The main function of red blood cells is to transport oxygen from your lungs to other tissues in the body. These tissues use oxygen to produce energy and release carbon dioxide as a waste product which the red blood cells also take to the lungs for exhalation.
Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the tissues in the body.
The body makes red blood cells in the soft bone tissues, also called the bone marrow. The soft bone tissues release the red blood cells into the bloodstream when fully mature, which usually takes around seven days.
The red blood cells have a bright red colour. This colour comes from the protein (haemoglobin) in the red blood cells that allow these cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to other cells in the body.
Red blood cells have a doughnut or flat disk shape with an indentation in the centre, but the cells aren’t hollow. These microscopic red blood cells do not have a nucleus like the white blood cells, which allows them to alter their shape and move easily in the body.
Red blood cells made in the bone marrow, like most cells in the body, contain haemoglobin, a protein responsible for carrying oxygen molecules.
Conditions that affect the red blood cells can cause the red blood cells to become too high or low. The medical conditions that cause a low red blood cell count include;
This condition causes the blood to carry less oxygen than normal, making the body feel weak, tired and cold.
When the body loses more blood cells than it can make.
When damage (lymphoma and leukaemia) occurs in the bone marrow, this is where the red blood cell is produced.
Some cancers and chemotherapy treatments for cancer can affect the number of red blood cells the body produces.
Some medical conditions that may cause an elevated red blood cell count include
An elevated red blood cell count leads to the thickening of the blood, which results in a stroke or heart attack.
One or several structures in the heart are irregular, resulting from incomplete formation during foetal development.
Tissues in the lungs scar resulting from pulmonary fibrosis, COPD or emphysema
Low oxygen level in the blood
Smoking increases the risk of carbon monoxide exposure.
The symptoms of red blood cell conditions include
Common factors that contribute to low red blood cell counts include:
Common causes of a high blood cell count include:
A complete blood count (CBC) test checks the number of white and red blood cells in the blood. Our medical professional will take your blood sample to check your red blood cell count.
The normal red blood cell range depends on the individual.
|Individual||Red blood cell count|
|Men||4.7 – 6.1 million red blood cells per microliter of blood|
|Women||4.2 – 5.4 million red blood cells per microliter of blood|
|Children||4.0 – 5.5 million red blood cells per microliter of blood|
If your red blood cell count is outside this range, your healthcare provider will advise you on the additional tests or treatments needed.
The treatment for red blood cell disorders depends on the diagnosis and the condition’s severity. Common treatments include:
You can maintain your healthy red blood cells by eating a balanced diet containing minerals and vitamins like vitamins B9 and B12 and iron. These vitamins and minerals are available in
Complete blood count, including red blood cell count test, is also available. Our healthcare professionals can carry out this test if you are concerned about your red blood cell count. Call us now on 02071830244 to book an appointment for your red blood cell count test.
Haemoglobin is a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen. Your haemoglobin acts like a driver in a car, helping to pick up oxygen from the lungs and transport it to the tissues in the body.
The blood appears red because 40% of the blood consists of red blood cells.