Complete Blood Count: What is a CBC Test?

Do you feel lethargic, maybe got clammy hands, kind of a bluish tinge on your lips, pale skin, and just plain out of it for quite some time?

When you’re lacking that rosy hue on your skin or you aren’t exactly an Energizer bunny lately, a trip to the doctor’s clinic may end up in a stopover to the laboratory for a CBC test.

See, your blood tells so much about your symptoms and why you’re feeling a certain way. It could be your red blood cells are running a little low, your white blood cells count is a little elevated, or there are other things going on about your blood. Whatever it may be, getting your blood checked is a quick and simple way to know what’s going on in your body.

What is a CBC?

A CBC test, also known as a Complete Blood Count test, is a test that looks at the cells that are in your blood. Within your blood are cells called red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A CBC test would be recommended by your doctor yearly for an overall check-up or to check for anemia, or to keep watch over an existing blood condition that you may have.

Now that we have a little bit more of an understanding of the CBC lets see how it is collected.

How is a CBC collected?

Collecting a CBC is quite simple, just as long as you are comfortable with a little needle. The Phlebotomist or examiner will collect some blood from your arm send it off to the local lab for further testing. You are then free to leave and go about your day as usual.

Let’s look a little bit deeper into the cells that your blood contains.

What are the cells duties?

These cells can show a lot about your overall health and wellness. Starting out we are going to look into the white blood cells. The white blood cells guard over your immune system and help to fight off infections. If your white blood cells or WBC levels are elevated that could be an indication of inflammation or an infection within your body. If your WBC is decreased you are put at risk for an infection. Normal ranges for WBC range from 4,500 to 10,000 cells.

Your white blood cells do not act alone, they are neighbors with your red blood cells. Your red blood cells are vital because they carry oxygen throughout your body and they are used for filtering carbon dioxide. If the red blood cells or RBC are decreased you can be at risk for anemia. The normal range for your RBC should range for men around 5 million to 6 million cells, and for women 4 million to 5 million cells.

Platelets are a very essential cell within the CBC, their job is to activate clotting factors on cuts or wounds. A lack of platelets would be a diagnosis such as Hemophilia. Unlike the Victorian times, today’s day and age have created such medications to aid in clotting. A normal platelet should range from 150,000 to 450,000 per mm3.

Below is a chart of what else that is included in the CBC and their normal ranges.

CBExpected Ranges
White Blood Count3.75-12.28 k/mm3
Red Blood Count4.31-5.89 m/mm3
Hemoglobin12.9-17.7 g/dL
Hematocrit41.0-52.0 %
Mean Corpuscular Volume80.0-99.0 fL
Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin24.0-33.0 pg
Mean Corp Hemoglobin Conc30.0-37.0 g/dL
Neutrophils %39.0-78.0 %
Lymphocyte %16.0-51.0 %
Monocytes %2.0-12.0 %
Eosinophils %0.0-7.0 %
Basophils %0.0-2.0 %
Platelets150-450 k/mm3

What is a CBC Blood Test For?

A CBC provides so much information about the state of your health through an analysis of your blood profile. This blood test helps you determine if there is an existing medical condition or to keep track of any improvement in your health if you have been taking medication. This is a quick and painless test and taking it annually or as recommended by your doctor is one way to keep on top of your health.

What Diseases Can CBC Detect?

There are several medical conditions that CBC can detect. Your doctor may require you to take a CBC test because of some signs of inflammation, infection, or bleeding in your body. There are also instances when you may need to have your blood tested because of chronic fatigue just to rule out or confirm any presence of an ailment.

An abnormal CBC test result can diagnose several diseases including:

  • Leukemia
  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Bone marrow failure
  • Thalassemia (abnormal production of RBC)
  • Abnormal development of the bone marrow
  • Dehydration
  • Effects of chemotherapy
  • Effects of medications taken on a long-term or short-term basis

Benefits of a CBC Test for Your Health

There are so many things that a CBC test can tell you about your health. This is why doctors order a CBC test to determine the presence of an ailment, infection, or inflammation in an individual before making a diagnosis. Upon identifying the cause of a symptom once the lab test results come out, proper medication and therapy may be given that can help improve a patient’s condition and ensure recovery and your best health.