High Red Blood Cell Count
Red blood cells (RBCs) are known as erythrocytes and they perform the most important function of the blood. Main role of red blood cells is to carry oxygen and supply it to different organs of the body. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin which enables transportation of oxygen from lungs to every tissue of the body.
An increased red blood cells count in the bloodstream means that there is an excess of red blood cells. Red blood cells count refers to number of red blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood. Normal RBC value in adults is around 5.0 million. High red blood cells count is also known as erythrocytosis and it refers to RBC value above 5.72 million for men and 5.03 million for women.
Causes for High Red Blood Cell CountThis condition may occur as a response to low oxygen levels in the body because of improper functioning of the heart or the lungs. If kidneys secrete excess protein, known as erythropoietin or EPO, it will result in elevated red blood cells count. Sometimes, the cause lies in overproduction of red blood cells in the bone marrow. High red blood cells count may result from impaired ability of the cells to carry oxygen. Elevated RBC value occurs at high altitudes due to low ambient oxygen levels. Strenuous exercises can also cause enhanced red blood cells production because increased muscle mass requires more oxygen. Finally, high red blood cells count can result from the loss of blood plasma, the liquid component of the blood.
High red blood count may occur because of certain specific causes such as:Use of anabolic steroids which enhance production of red blood cellsCongenital heart diseaseChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)Use of injectable erythropoietin (EPO) to improve performance of athletes in competitionsHeart diseasesHemoglobinopathy, a genetic defect that causes production of abnormal hemoglobinsKidney cancerLiving in high altitudesRenal hypoxiaLung diseasesPulmonary fibrosisSmokingPolycythemia vera, a condition characterized by elevated white blood cell and platelet count.Symptoms of High Red Blood Cell CountNot all people with high red blood cell count experience the same symptoms. It depends on number of factors and underlying causes of the condition. Some people have only mild symptoms while others may suffer a lot of discomfort because of elevated red blood cell count. In some cases, this condition is followed by other blood disorders such as bleeding and clotting problems. Common symptoms that are associated with high red blood cell count include: headaches, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, abdominal pain, itching, joint pain, and bruising.