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Reading Blood Test Results

Reading Blood Test Results

Understanding blood test results is easy, if you know what to look out for. This HealthHearty article presents useful information on blood test results for common tests like a complete blood count, hemoglobin test, and glucose test.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Reading blood test results is not as difficult as it is made out to be. You need to know that when blood tests are conducted, they may be a general test for all cells present, or they may be for specific purposes, like to check for the calcium levels or thyroid levels. However, most commonly, a blood test includes a complete blood count, a hemoglobin test, and a glucose test.
Understanding Blood Test Results
Complete Blood Count
A complete blood count is often a routine part of blood tests. While reading blood test results for a complete blood count, one needs to understand that the results are for three different types of cells, which are red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets (thrombocytes). Normal range varies slightly between laboratories. Given below are details regarding the levels of each of these cell types:
Red Blood Cells
The normal level of red blood cells is 4.2 to 5.4 million cells per microliter (cells/mcL) of blood in women and 4.7 to 6.1 million cells per microliter of blood (cells/mcL) in men. A low red blood cell count indicates that the rate of production of red blood cells is low or the rate of destruction of red blood cells is high. This can mean that a person may be suffering from hemolytic anemia, spleen problems, autoimmune disorders, etc. A high red blood cell count could indicate that the person lives at a high altitude, or if the number of red blood cells is very high, then this is a condition known as polycythemia vera.
White Blood Cells
You first need to know that there are a total of five different types of white blood cells. The normal white blood cell count range is 4300-10,800 white blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood. In other words, it is 4.3 x10 9 to 10.8 x 109 cells per liter. The normal white blood cell level can be around 7000 white blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood. Normally, while reading blood test results for white blood cell count, you can refer to the following range:
  • Neutrophils: 40 - 60 %
  • Lymphocytes: 20 - 40 %
  • Monocytes: 2 - 8 %
  • Eosinophils: 1 - 4 %
  • Basophils: 0.5 - 1 %
  • Band (young neutrophil): 0 - 3 %
These are the readings per cubic millimeter of blood. A leukocyte count around 3000-5000 is called leukopenia, while in leukocytosis, it can be around 11000-17000. When the levels of white blood cells is very high, then it is known as leukemia. An autoimmune disorder, bone marrow problems, certain medicines, or cancer can lower the WBC count. High WBC count indicates an infection, inflammation, an immune system disorder, or a bone marrow disease. Use of certain medicines can also lead to high WBC count.
Platelets
The normal platelet count is between 150,000 and 450,000 per microliter of blood. A low platelet count is seen when a person has a clotting disorder. A high platelet count means the person has a hypercoagulability tendency, and thus, may be suffering from disseminated intravascular coagulation syndrome.
Glucose Test
One of the simplest tests to read is that of glucose. The glucose test is done to check the levels of blood sugar at different times of the day. Hence, the different types of blood glucose test and their readings are:
  • Fasting blood sugar: This test is done twelve hours after the last meal. Ideally, a range of (3.9-5.6 mmol/L), that is, 70 - 100 mg/dl is considered to be normal.
  • Postprandial glucose test: This is the test that is done two hours after the last meal. The glucose levels after eating should not exceed 125 mg/dl.
  • Random glucose test: A random glucose test is taken from a non-fasting subject and hence has a slightly higher reference range. A level of 200 mg/dL or higher often means that the patient has diabetes.
Hemoglobin Test
One of the most common tests that is part of routine blood testing is the hemoglobin test. This test is used to check for the hemoglobin levels in the blood. Sometimes, both hematocrit and hemoglobin are checked for at the same time. Hemoglobin is the metalloprotein that is found in red blood cells, while hematocrit is the volume of cells in the plasma of blood. There are certain conditions where the levels of this compound go down considerably. In such conditions, the person starts showing symptoms like shortness of breath, weakness, tiredness, pallor, etc. This is known as anemia. Thus, it is very important to maintain hemoglobin levels within the normal hemoglobin range. Given below are details regarding what is considered to be normal levels of hemoglobin depending on the age and the sex of the person. So, you can check whether the hemoglobin levels are falling within these ranges or not:
Age Group Hemoglobin Count (g/dl)
Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Newborn Babies 14 - 24
Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Infants 9.5 - 13
Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Children (Age 6-12 years) 11.5 - 15.5
Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Adults (Male) 13.8 - 17.2
Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Adults (Female) 12.1 - 15.1
Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Men after Middle Age 12.4 - 14.9
Normal Hemoglobin Levels in Women after Middle Age 11.7 - 13.8
Interpreting blood test results is quite easy if you know the range that needs to be kept in mind for that test result. So now that you know how to read blood test results it will be a lot easier to understand a report on the blood tests done to gage your health.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.