Hemoglobin tests are performed to check the levels of hemoglobin in the body. Given below are details about how to do this test and how to interpret the results obtained…
Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying molecule present in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a metalloprotein that forms an important part of red blood cells. Its level is checked when a person shows symptoms like shortness of breath, pallor, etc. Any kind of deficiency in hemoglobin leads to compromised levels of oxygen in the blood. Given below are details regarding how to carry out a hemoglobin test at home and how to interpret the results thus obtained.
How to Test
This test is normally done as a part of a complete blood count. There are many ways of measuring hemoglobin, most of which are done by automated machines nowadays. Red blood cells are broken down to release the hemoglobin, which is then measured. Free hemoglobin is exposed to a chemical containing cyanide, which binds tightly with it to form cyanomethemoglobin. By shining light through the solution and by measuring how much light is absorbed, the amount of hemoglobin can be measured.
When a person’s diabetes is not controlled, then there is an overload of sugar in blood. This sugar combines with hemoglobin to become glycated. Therefore, the amount of sugar in the blood can be determined by doing a hemoglobin A1c level test. If the glucose levels have been high over the last few weeks, the test will reflect that. The read from this test will reflect the last several weeks of sugar levels in blood―typically over a period of 120 days, which is the normal life span of a red blood cell.
Non-diabetics normally have hemoglobin A1c levels between 4 to 6%. Due to the complications involved with diabetes, this level should be less than 7%. Individuals with glycated hemoglobin levels higher than 7% are at a high risk of developing complications related to diabetes, like diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy. Thus, diabetics should ideally get this test done every three months, to check if their blood sugar levels are in control. However, diabetics who are also anemic may get unreliable test results due to the low hemoglobin available for the sugar to bind with. Other conditions which may affect the readings of hemoglobin A1c test results include the presence of excess vitamin C, E, and cholesterol.
|Age Group||Hemoglobin Count (gm/dl)|
|Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Newborn Babies||17 – 22|
|Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Children||11 – 13|
|Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Adults (Male)||14 – 18|
|Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Adults (Female)||12 – 16|
|Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Elderly (Male)||12.4 – 14.9|
|Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Elderly (Female)||11.7 – 13.8|
Interpretation of Test Results
If the hemoglobin is slightly higher than normal, it can considered to be a slight variation, as at times, people may have physiologic high levels of hemoglobin. People who live at high altitudes tend to have higher levels of hemoglobin. Acute dehydration can also land a person with high levels of hemoglobin, though this is not a healthy means to an ultimately healthy end.
Low hemoglobin levels indicate either low levels of red blood cells or a deficiency of iron in the body. This would mean the person is anemic, and may have a tendency to have low levels of oxygen in the body.
Everyone should regularly get such tests done so as track any kinds of problem with red blood cells or hemoglobin as early as possible, so as to avoid any further complications.