Hemoglobin is a specific protein necessary for transport of oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body and carbon dioxide from the cells back to the lungs. It is a part of red blood cells. Apart from being in the red blood cells hemoglobin is also found in the substantia nigra, macrophages, alveolar cells and mesangial cells in the kidneys. In these tissues the function of hemoglobin is not binding of the oxygen but there it acts as an antioxidant and a regulator of iron metabolism.
Hemoglobin is a metalloprotein which contains iron. The binding capacity of hemoglobin is between 1.36 and 1.37 mL of oxygen per gram of hemoglobin. Normal levels of hemoglobin are essential for proper functioning of red blood cells. Every excess of hemoglobin or shortage causes certain symptoms and signs and may lead to certain complications.
High Hemoglobin Count
The normal level of hemoglobin varies according to gender and age. So in men hemoglobin normally ranges from 13.8 to 17.2 gm/dl and in women it ranges from 12.1 to 15.1 gm/dl. Pregnant women usually suffer from slightly decreased amount of hemoglobin and it is between 11 to 12 g/dl. And finally, in children hemoglobin ranges from 11 to 16 g/dl.
If there is too much of hemoglobin or insufficient amount of this metalloprotein one experiences certain symptoms and a simple blood test may conform the condition. It is essential for one to understand that increased level of hemoglobin does not mean increased number of red blood cells. Even though the level of hemoglobin is elevated one may have optimal number of red blood cells or even suffer from anemia.
Causes of High Hemoglobin Count
There are numerous conditions which may feature with increased amount of hemoglobin. This condition may be caused by increased release of a protein called the erythropoietin. The erythropoietin stimulates production of red blood cells. Furthermore, increased level of hemoglobin may be a consequence of excessive administration of certain medications which stimulate production of red blood cells. Another cause is related to malfunction of the bone marrow. Certain anabolic steroids stimulate production of red blood cells and cause elevated level of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is also increased in congenital and acquired heart diseases. Dehydration and smoking are two more potential causes of high hemoglobin levels. And, it may also occur due to lung diseases and kidney cancer.
Some of the potential symptoms of high hemoglobin level include impaired circulation and abnormal blood clotting, peripheral cyanosis and impaired mental function. If these occur one is supposed to visit his/her doctor.