7 Blood Diseases That May Show Up on a Blood Test
An adult has approximately 1.2 to 1.5 gallons of blood in their body, and it takes less than 1% of that amount to tell us a wealth of information.
If your patients have been feeling unwell, then going through their symptoms can help you narrow down possible culprits. Then, a blood test can either confirm or rule out certain disorders and diseases. From there, it’ll be easier to recommend a treatment plan.
In this article, we’ll discuss seven blood diseases that can show up on a blood test. That way, you’ll have a better idea of what you might be dealing with.
Anemia is a blood disorder that causes a lack of healthy red blood cells (RBCs) or hemoglobin, which carries much-needed oxygen to your tissues. As a result, patients can be weak, fatigued, and short of breath. They may also have pale skin that’s easily bruised and irregular heartbeats.
There are several types of anemia, including:
- Iron deficiency
- Sickle cell
- Vitamin deficiency
A low hemoglobin (iron-rich protein in RBCs) or hematocrit (how much space RBCs take in your blood) level in a complete blood count (CBC) is a sign of anemia. The mean corpuscular volume (MCV) measures the average size of your RBCs; abnormal results here can also indicate anemia.
When CBC results are abnormal, other tests are needed to pinpoint what type of anemia the patient has. These tests include:
- Hemoglobin electrophoresis
- Reticulocyte count
- Serum iron
- Total iron-binding capacity
Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes the patient to make insufficient hemoglobin. There are two types (alpha or beta) with differing severities as well (minor/trait, intermedia, or major).
Those who have the major form will most likely need blood transfusions and chelation therapy, making thalassemia a treatable blood disorder. Depending on the type, those with thalassemia minor/trait or intermedia can develop anemia and some symptoms, but nothing serious or life-threatening.
A CBC test will show fewer healthy RBCs and a lower hemoglobin count. Sometimes, patients may have smaller RBCs too. You can also order a reticulocyte count to see if the patient’s bone marrow isn’t producing enough RBCs.
To differentiate between alpha and beta thalassemia, you can order genetic testing (alpha) or hemoglobin electrophoresis (beta).
Leukemia is the general term for cancers that happen in your blood cells. While these cancers are most common in people older than 55, it does affect children under 15 too. In fact, it’s the most common type of cancer found in adolescents.
In leukemia, the patient’s body produces more white blood cells (WBCs) than needed. In addition, these WBCs don’t work correctly.
There are two classifications: acute or chronic, and lymphocytic or myelogenous. The first tells you how quickly the cancer spreads, and the second tells you what type of WBC is affected.
What’s interesting to note is that leukemia is sometimes discovered when doctors order blood tests for other conditions.
On a CBC, not only will a leukemia patient’s WBC be high, but their RBC or platelet counts will also be low.
Thrombocytopenia is a blood condition where the patient has a low blood platelet count. These platelets are essential for blood clotting, so the patient may have issues with bleeding and bruising.
Naturally, a lower result in a platelet count test will indicate this condition. Other platelet tests can check the patient’s ability to form clots too.
The good news is, it can be mild, meaning the patient has little to no symptoms. However, in some cases, they may have internal bleeding, so you need to take prompt action with treatment options.
Hemophilia is a genetic blood disorder that prevents a person’s blood from clotting properly. You might be familiar with it, as Queen Victoria of England passed this trait onto her line.
A CBC is often normal for hemophilia patients, although RBC and hemoglobin levels may be low if they have heavy and/or prolonged bleeding. In addition to a CBC, an activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT), prothrombin time (PTT), and fibrinogen tests see how long it takes for blood to clot.
Clotting factor tests (factor assays) then determine the specific type of hemophilia. There are three types: A, B, and C.
6. Polycythemia Vera
Polycythemia vera is actually a rare blood disorder. The patient will have too many blood cells, especially RBCs. As a result, their blood will be thicker, which puts them at risk of tissue and organ damage, as well as strokes.
This is a genetic mutation and not an inherited disorder. Unfortunately, there’s no known cause in most cases.
Test results will show higher RBC levels, as well as an excess in platelets and WBCs. The hematocrit can be higher than normal too.
Hemochromatosis is an inherited blood disorder that occurs when the body gets too much iron, which is toxic. It can lead to liver disease and other health problems, so early detection is important.
A hemochromatosis patient will have a high iron-to-transferrin ratio, as well as high ferritin levels.
Fortunately, there are many effective treatments that can lower the amount of iron in a patient’s body. As a result, there’s a reduction in symptoms and organ damage.
Watch Out for These Blood Diseases
Many of these blood diseases are treatable, especially with early detection. With the right lifestyle changes and medications, your patients can decrease their symptoms and get a better quality of life.
So if you suspect that they have any sort of blood disorder, ordering a CBC can be a great start. Once you get the results, you can then order the necessary tests to confirm a diagnosis.
If you suspect that your patients or clients have blood disorders, then request our blood testing services today. Our tests are accurate, confident, and efficient.