General Practice 2022

8 tests that confirm anemia

8 tests that confirm anemia
8 tests that confirm anemia

To diagnose anemia it is necessary to do a blood test to evaluate the amount of red blood cells and hemoglobin, being normally indicative of anemia when the hemoglobin values ​​are below 12 g/dL in the case of women and 14 g /dL in the case of men.

However, the hemoglobin concentration is not the only parameter for the diagnosis of anemia, and other tests are usually requested to identify the cause of low hemoglobin and initiate the most appropriate treatment. Learn what altered hemoglobin values ​​may indicate.

Since iron deficiency anemia is the most common, the doctor starts by evaluating the amount of ferritin in the blood, because when this substance is in small amount, it means that there is little iron in the body.However, if ferritin values ​​are normal, further tests such as hemoglobin electrophoresis or counting vitamin B12 and folic acid levels may be necessary, which help identify other types of anemia.

1. Blood count

The blood count is the main test performed to diagnose anemia, mainly observing the hemoglobin levels. In general, anemia is considered when the hemoglobin levels in the blood are:

  • In men: less than 14 g/dL of blood;
  • In women: less than 12 g/dL of blood;

In addition to assessing the amount of hemoglobin, the amount, size and characteristics of red blood cells are also evaluated in the blood count. Despite being the main test for diagnosing anemia, it needs to be complemented by other blood tests to identify the type of anemia and, thus, be able to start the most appropriate treatment.

2. Blood smear

The blood smear is usually done in conjunction with the blood count and is intended to assess the appearance of blood cells, including red blood cells, under a microscope to determine size, shape, number, and appearance. Thus, it is possible to assist in the diagnosis of sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, megaloblastic anemia and other hematological alterations.

3. Hemoglobin electrophoresis

This test aims to identify the different types of hemoglobin found circulating in the person's blood, being useful to identify sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, for example, which is also known as Mediterranean anemia.

It is important that the hemoglobin electrophoresis result be evaluated by the physician and complemented by the CBC and blood smear results, the results of other blood tests and the signs and symptoms presented by the person.Learn more about hemoglobin electrophoresis.

4. Reticulocyte count

Reticulocyte count is a type of test that can be requested together with the blood count and aims to identify the presence of reticulocytes in the blood, which are the "young red blood cells". Thus, it is possible to assess whether the bone marrow is functioning properly, allowing the identification of aplastic anemia.

5. Iron, ferritin and transferrin

The dosage of iron, ferritin and transferrin are important for the diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia, also known as iron deficiency anemia. These tests are usually ordered together with the blood count, since iron deficiency is one of the main causes of decreased hemoglobin concentration and, consequently, anemia.

6. Vitamin B12

The dosage of vitamin B12 in the blood may be requested by the doctor in order to investigate pernicious anemia, as the deficiency of this vitamin can lead to anemia.This test is mainly indicated when the blood count shows, in addition to a decrease in hemoglobin, a decrease in the number of red blood cells and a larger-than-normal size, as well as changes in the shape of the red blood cells.

7. Bone marrow biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy is a test that can be performed when there are changes in the blood count and blood smear that suggest that anemia is related to changes in this organ. As it is a more invasive test, bone marrow biopsy is only indicated after performing other main tests capable of identifying anemia.

8. Other exams

Some other tests may be indicated by the doctor to identify anemia and the type, and investigate the cause, such as:

  • Stool examination;
  • Bilirubin dosage;
  • Measuring copper levels in the blood;
  • Exams to assess liver and kidney function.

It is important that the results of the exams be evaluated by the doctor, because only then is it possible to start the appropriate treatment for the situation. Having only the hemoglobin concentration below the reference value is not enough to determine anemia, and it is very important to carry out complementary exams. Learn more about the different types of anemia.

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