Erythrocytes or the red blood cells are the main components of the blood cells present in the human body. The erythrocytes are flattened, biconcave and circular and also have the capability to change shapes to facilitate the act of squeezing through tiny capillaries. They do not contain the cell nucleus or most organelles.
Function of erythrocytes
The erythrocytes carry out the essential function of delivering oxygen to various tissues and organs of the body. Also, they take the carbon dioxide produced in different cells of the body and transport them to the lungs, which release the gas during exhalation.
They go from one area of the body to another in the bloodstream with the aid of the circulatory system. The production of erythrocytes is regulated by a hormone known as erythropoietin. The name red blood cells or red blood corpuscles, is derived from the presence of a vital constituent of erythrocytes called hemoglobin. This component acts as the carrier of oxygen and also gives the red color to the blood. The erythrocytes can be found in plentiful amounts throughout the body and normally form about 45 percent of the human blood.
Normal range of erythrocytes
The normal erythrocytes count in adult men varies between 4.2 and 5.72 million red blood cells/micro-liter of blood, while in adult women it varies between 4.2 and 5.0. The normal erythrocytes count in children ranges from 3.5 to 5.5 million red blood cells/micro-liter of blood.
It may be noted that the normal range of erythrocytes count may vary as per the rules of the testing lab, and also the age of the individual who is being tested.
Low erythrocytes count
A low erythrocytes count points to the fact that the number of erythrocytes in the body has fallen below the normal levels. It is a harmful condition which causes the defense system of the body to weaken and thus make it more susceptible to infections and diseases.
- Symptoms of low erythrocytes count
- The limited oxygen supply to different parts of the body may cause the patient to become weak and fatigued
- Pain in the chest due to diminished oxygen flow to the heart
- Decrease in hemoglobin content can result in pale eyes, skin and nails
- Lack of oxygen flow to the brain can lead to dizziness, lightheadedness and diminished concentration powers
- Some other signs include increased sensations of being cold, headaches, numbness of hands and feet and breathlessness, etc.
- Causes of low erythrocytes count
- Anemia is a disease that results in decreased hemoglobin and erythrocytes levels and thus affects the capability of the blood to carry blood. One may get anemia due to poor nutrition or heavy bleeding during menstrual periods.
- The spleen is an organ that fights off infections and maintains the balance of fluids. Also, a component of the spleen called reticuloendothelial tissue, aids the discarding of abnormal, damaged and old erythrocytes. An abnormality of the spleen can cause low erythrocytes count.
- Presence of various autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, etc, can cause the immune system to attack healthy blood cells and other tissues, leading to low erythrocytes count.
- Hodgkin’s disease affects various organs like the lymph nodes, liver, bone marrow and the spleen, which are important for controlling the erythrocytes count and hence the presence of this form of cancer can lower erythrocytes count.
- Leukemia affects the bone marrow and causes the white blood cells to rapidly multiply. This results in crowding out of the erythrocytes, which eventually lowers its count.
- Pancytopenia, chemotherapy treatments, myelosuppression, pregnancy and neurological disorders are other possible causes of low erythrocytes count.
- Treatment of low erythrocytes count
- Once the cause of low erythrocytes count is determined, the condition can be treated via medications, intake of iron, vitamin and other supplements, chemotherapy for bone marrow disorders and even a blood transfusion.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
This test measures proteins that can be linked to inflammation. But doctors cannot reach conclusions just on the basis of ESR results. The ESR count may be normal but there may be still be a problem.
Erythrocyte count can increase with inflammation, anemia, pregnancy, infection and old age. An elevated ESR can cause increase in globulins that can indicate an infection. The doctors also have to use other tests depends on the symptoms to arrive at a conclusion.
High erythrocytes count
A high erythrocytes count can result in the development of a disorder known as erythrocytes. This can in turn result in increased thickness and viscosity of the blood, thereby affecting/damaging the capability of the erythrocytes to squeeze through to various organs.
- Symptoms of high erythrocytes count
- Some people affected by high erythrocytes count may not elicit any symptom, while other patients may experience severe uneasiness and/or discomfort. Some common symptoms are listed below.
- Clotting and bleeding problems
- Abdominal pain
- Easy bruising
- Join pain
- Causes of high erythrocytes count
- May be caused due to bone marrow abnormalities that result in increased production of erythrocytes
- Decreased oxygen content in the erythrocytes can increase the number of erythrocytes
- Excess production of the erythropoietin hormone by the kidneys can raise the erythrocytes count
- A lung or heart condition that results in decreased flow of oxygen can cause an increase in the production of erythrocytes thereby raising its count.
- Limited oxygen supply at higher altitudes can cause excess production of erythrocytes
- Excessive smoking, dehydration, kidney cancer, use of steroids that increase erythrocytes production, pulmonary fibrosis, erythropoietin doping and hemoglobinopathies are some of the other factors that can cause the erythrocytes count to rise.
- A high erythrocytes count can be treated by diagnosing the underlying cause of the condition and then treating it accordingly.
Erythrocytes in urine
The presence of erythrocytes in urine is medically known as hematuria. As part of the normal process of elimination of dead and damaged erythrocytes, nearly 2.5 million erythrocytes are removed on a daily basis via urine. However, excessive release of erythrocytes in urine is considered dangerous and abnormal.
- Symptoms of erythrocytes in urine
- Some of the signs and symptoms of erythrocytes in urine are listed below:
- Tiny blood clots can be found in the urine
- Painful urination or burning sensation during urination
- Flank pain or pain in the groin
- Vomiting or nausea
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Diminished appetite
- Causes of erythrocytes in urine
- A urinary tract infection is usually the most common cause of erythrocytes in urine.
- Intake of certain prescription medications can result in erythrocytes in urine as a side effect
- It can be caused by presence of enlarged prostate which is a non cancerous disorder of the prostate gland, diabetes as well as sickle cell anemia
- Kidney infections, inflammation of the kidneys, kidney stones or kidney tumors can result in erythrocytes in urine in addition to extreme discomfort and pain during urination.
- Strenuous exercising or trauma or injury that results in bladder or kidney injuries can also lead to erythrocytes in urine.
- Treatment of erythrocytes in urine involves various tests to diagnose the cause of the condition. Once the underlying disease causing erythrocytes in urine has been identified, then the doctor may recommend various treatment methods as per the diagnosis.