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Hemoglobin (HGB): What is its Low and High?


Hemoglobin (HGB): What is its Low and High?

Hemoglobin (HGB) is a type of protein found in red blood cells and is one of the parameters whose level is investigated in almost every blood test. Hemoglobin, which is included in a group of blood tests generally called blood count or hemogram, can be used to investigate many health problems, especially anemia. It is important for health that the hemoglobin level is within the required value ranges. When low or high hemoglobin is detected for any reason, the cause of this condition must be investigated and the necessary treatments must be initiated.

What is HGB?

Hemoglobin is the substance found in red blood cells in the body and gives blood its red color. The function of hemoglobin, which contains the iron mineral in its structure, is to transport oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs through blood, and at the same time to re-deliver the carbon dioxide accumulated in these tissues and organs to the lungs. Hemoglobin, which contains a lot of iron in its structure, can decrease rapidly due to iron deficiency. While a low hemoglobin level in the blood usually indicates anemia, a high hemoglobin level may be a sign of a group of serious diseases. Due to the key functions it has in the body, hemoglobin amount is always investigated in all kinds of health screenings. It is possible to perform hemoglobin and other blood count measurements together with a simple blood test.

What is HGB Low?

Low hemoglobin level is usually an indication that the person has anemia. Considering healthy individuals under normal conditions;

  • 13.5 g/dL in men,

  • 12 g/dL in women,

  • 11 g/dL in children,

  • In pregnant women, an HGB value below 10 g/dL is considered low hemoglobin.

Although these are average values, it would be more accurate to consider the reference ranges of the center where the blood test was performed, since reference values ​​may vary slightly depending on laboratory conditions. For various reasons, hemoglobin levels may decrease and anemia may develop. Therefore, in case of low hemoglobin, the type of anemia must be determined by using further diagnostic tests. ,

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What are the symptoms of low HGB?

When hemoglobin is low, some negative symptoms may occur as the oxygen carried to tissues and organs decreases. Some of these can be listed as follows:

  • Don’t get tired easily

  • Shortness of breath

  • unintentional weight loss

  • dizziness

  • Fast and irregular heartbeats, intense feeling of pulse in the ears

  • Problems such as coldness and numbness in hands and feet

  • Yellow or pale appearance on the skin

  • Headache and chest pain

If you have symptoms similar to those above, it is recommended that you consult the nearest health institution.

What are the Causes of Low HGB?

The decrease in hemoglobin level is most likely caused by anemia. Conditions that can lead to a decrease in HGB levels may include:

  • iron deficiency anemia

  • Vitamin deficiency anemias (vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency)

  • pregnancy related anemia

  • Familial Mediterranean anemia (thalassemia)

  • Aplastic anemias that develop due to the autoimmune effect of the immune system

  • Hemolytic anemias, which develop when red blood cells break down in the bloodstream or spleen

  • Sickle cell anemia, in which the hemoglobin protein has a genetically abnormal structure

  • Chemotherapy used for cancer treatment

  • acute blood loss

  • sepsis

  • kidney diseases

  • Diseases that negatively affect blood cell production, such as leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma

  • Other chronic diseases

  • Some medications used

  • Unbalanced and unhealthy diet

  • Extensive use of tobacco products

Apart from these reasons, newborn babies are born 6-8 days after birth. Anemia may develop within weeks. This condition is usually caused by depletion of red blood cells present at birth. This situation is generally considered normal and temporary when there is no other disease.

How to Treat Low HGB?

Treatment of low hemoglobin is determined depending on the underlying cause or the type of development of anemia. In cases of anemia caused by iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency, a nutritional plan should be planned and additional vitamin or mineral supplements should be used. In cases of hemoglobin decreases due to different diseases, treatments applied for this disease will help to control the hemoglobin level. In anemias that develop due to drug use, it may be necessary to turn to alternative medications. In some cases, such as acute blood loss or thalassemia, blood transfusion may be needed when severe HGB deficiency occurs. In some cases, such as sickle cell anemia, alternative treatment methods such as stem cell transplantation may be considered. Untreated anemia can lead to serious problems including heart disease, restless legs syndrome and even organ failure. Therefore, low hemoglobin definitely requires follow-up and treatment.

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What is HGB Height?

Although low HGB is a much more common problem, in some cases HGB levels may be higher than normal. Among healthy individuals;

  • 18 g/dL in men,

  • 15 g/dL in women,

  • Although it may vary depending on age in children, an HGB value detected above 16 g/dL on average can be defined as high hemoglobin.

In some cases, hemoglobin levels that are very close to the upper limit may not have any medical significance. However, significant elevations or persistent HGB elevation require further investigation.

What are the symptoms of HGB elevation?

In cases where hemoglobin elevation is very severe, it may manifest itself with various symptoms. These may include:

  • unintentional weight loss

  • Itching on the skin

  • Pain and swelling in joints

  • Weakness

  • yellowing of eyes

  • Excessive sweating and hot flashes

  • Headache and dizziness

High hemoglobin value in humans is less common than low hemoglobin levels, so it definitely requires examination.

What are the causes of HGB elevation?

Elevated hemoglobin may indicate polycythemia, a rare genetic disease. This disease is a congenital problem that causes the bone marrow to produce too many red blood cells. Since the blood in polycythemia patients is much denser than normal, there is a risk of heart attack and stroke due to clotting. Therefore, lifelong follow-up and treatment is required. Apart from this, other possible causes of high hemoglobin include:

  • Loss of fluid in the body (dehydration)

  • Heart and lung diseases

  • living at high altitude

  • severe burns

  • Excessive vomiting or diarrhea

  • very intense physical activity

  • Excessive use of cigarettes or other tobacco products

  • Steroids or some drugs used for performance enhancement

  • kidney tumors

  • Bone marrow related diseases

  • lack of oxygen

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Since a higher hemoglobin value than normal will definitely require a course of treatment, it is extremely important that you consult the nearest health institution.

How is HGB Height Treated?

Diagnosing polycythemia in patients with high hemoglobin requires lifelong repeated blood counts and additional screenings. The use of blood thinners is often a permanent part of the treatment process. Apart from this, in cases where the hemoglobin level increases significantly, the treatment plan may need to be changed. Hemoglobin elevations that occur due to fluid loss in situations such as burns, severe diarrhea or vomiting are usually acute and temporary. In these cases, replacing the lost fluid as soon as possible is the most effective way to prevent both high hemoglobin and other serious health problems that dehydration can cause. Increased hemoglobin levels due to reasons such as kidney tumors and bone marrow diseases are evaluated within the scope of treatment protocols for these diseases. In mild elevations, which are considered borderline elevations, there may be temporary and simple reasons, so a repeat blood test appointment can be made after a certain period of time without the need for any intervention. In summary, identifying the underlying problem is the basic stage in determining how the treatment will be shaped.

If you see that your hemoglobin value is low or high in your blood test, you can consult your doctor to get information about the reasons for this situation, and live a healthier life by having detailed examination and tests.


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