Sometimes, usually during the process of diagnosis you undergo while paying your doctor a visit, you are instructed to have a complete blood count test done. A complete blood count assesses the number of cells in your blood, differentiating red cells from white ones and platelets.
Through this form of testing, your doctor can diagnose your condition better, ruling out or finding any signs of anemia, infection or some other health problems.
Importance of Complete Blood Count
This test consists of several parts. Basically, once the test is done, the doctor obtains a complete count of white blood cells in the body, being the entire number of protective cells which attack and destroy any malignant microorganisms present, keeping us safe from illnesses. If the number of these cells is satisfactory, our immune system is fully functional. However, when the number of these cells is elevated or below normal, an infection or some other health problem is affecting our body. These cells are bigger that the red ones, but are present in smaller numbers.
There are several types of white blood cells and the complete blood count differentiates them, providing the health expert important information about the exact state of our immune system.
Besides white blood cells, the CBC also gives information about red blood cell count. These cells have a role of delivering oxygen to our body, spreading it around after collecting it from the lungs. At the same time, they carry carbon dioxide back into the lungs, allowing us to exhale it. Thus, if the count of these cells is too low, we might be lacking oxygen, leading to a state called anemia. However, if the situation takes place the other way around and we have increased count of red blood cells, we might risk forming clots in the capillaries, again affecting the distribution of oxygen in a negative way.
The CBC also assesses the exact amount of space our red blood cells take up in the blood. This information is very important once anemia is being either diagnosed or ruled out. Furthermore, our red blood cells would not be capable of carrying oxygen if there was not for hemoglobin, a molecule involved in the oxygen distribution process, giving these cells their distinctive, red color.
Therefore, as far as red blood cells are concerned, the CBC provides one with all the necessary information for diagnosis of any possible diseases or health problems, taking into consideration all the aspects of these parts of our blood.
Yet, the power of CBC does not end here, since this test gives many other pieces of important medical information. Namely, it provides with platelet count, or the count of thrombocytes, being the smallest blood cells in our body. These cells fulfill their purpose once we get injured, gathering together at the spot of injury and accumulating in order to form a sticky patch which has the power to discontinue the loss of blood. If we lack these blood constituents, a small cut might be enough to get us killed. However, these tiny cells, when present in high numbers, may lead to problems like hardening of the arteries or formation of blood clots.
All in all, a complete blood test is a tool which can help the doctors find the reasons behind your fatigue, fever, bruising or weight loss, diagnosing anemia, amount of blood loss, infections, blood diseases etc. Also, a CBC can check your blood state, assessing whether you are capable of withstanding a surgery or not and how you are coping with different treatments involving radiation or specific medications. In some cases, the only purpose of a CBC is giving the basic information regarding your overall health during a regular physical exam.
How is Complete Blood Count Done?
The patient does not have to prepare for this test at all. Once you enter the office of your health professional, he/she will wrap an elastic band around your upper arm, blocking the blood flow in order to make veins more visible and easily accessible. Then, he/she will disinfect the area where the needle will pierce through your skin, into the vein. Afterwards, the needle will be inserted, taking a sample of your blood and transferring it into a small container. When enough blood is obtained, the health practitioner will remover the wrap band and put a gauze pad over the place where the needle entered the body, removing the needle. Once the process finishes, you will be advised to hold the gauze pressed a bit until the bleeding stops.
Then, all you have to do is wait for your results. Once the CBC is done, your doctor will explain the processed information and tell you whether you are experiencing some health problems or not.
Complete blood count is a very important form of blood testing, both for the process of medical diagnosis and the development of treatment plans.