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MCH: What is it, Low, High and Treatment


MCH: What is it, Low, High and Treatment

Red blood cells, which are cells in the blood that carry oxygen, carry oxygen through the hemoglobin protein, which has oxygen-binding properties. The amount of hemoglobin is important for carrying sufficient amounts of oxygen in the body and for the healthy functioning of the metabolism. For this reason, the MCH value, which shows the average amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells, becomes important.

What is MCH?

MCH, short for mean corpuscular (erythrocyte) hemoglobin, is a type of blood test that measures the average amount of hemoglobin in a red blood cell. Because hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells, the MCH level indicates how much hemoglobin a person’s red blood cells carry. When MCH value is evaluated together with the mean corpuscular volume (MCV) value, it also provides information about the size of the red blood cell. Thus, the MCH value measured in picograms (pg) can be used in the diagnosis of some blood diseases.

What should be the MCH value?

The normal range for MCH (mean erythrocyte hemoglobin) value is considered to be 27-33 picograms (pg). However, since this range may vary from laboratory to laboratory or depending on the measurement unit used, it is necessary to pay attention to the reference ranges specified by the laboratory when evaluating the MCH result. If the MCH value is below or above normal according to the reference range specified in the test result, a doctor should be consulted and more tests should be performed if necessary.

What is Low MCH?

Low MCH seen in a blood test is when the average amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells falls below the normal range. When the MCH value is 26 pg or lower, red blood cells become smaller and discolored. Low MCH, which can be caused by many reasons, should be taken into consideration as it can cause serious health problems in the body.

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What are the symptoms of low MCH?

Since low MCH depends on the size and hemoglobin carrying capacity of red blood cells, various symptoms are observed in the body when it is low. Symptoms of low MCH include:

  • Weakness and fatigue: Weakness and fatigue may occur as a result of a decrease in energy levels due to not carrying enough oxygen to the body cells.

  • Pale skin: Low levels of hemoglobin in red blood cells cause skin to appear pale because the erythrocytes become discolored.

  • Shortness of breath: Decreasing the amount of oxygen in the blood can cause respiratory problems and cause shortness of breath.

  • Dizziness: When MCH levels are low, symptoms such as dizziness may occur because not enough oxygen can be carried to the brain.

  • Heart palpitations: When body cells do not receive enough oxygen, the heart tries to compensate by beating faster and palpitations occur.

  • Numbness and tingling: Numbness or tingling may occur when there is not enough oxygen to various parts of the body, such as the hands and feet.

  • Concentration problems: Since insufficient oxygen levels also disrupt mental functions, focus and concentration problems may occur.

What are the causes of low MCH?

Low MCH, one of the most common causes of which is iron deficiency anemia, can occur due to many similar reasons. These reasons that cause low MCH can be explained as follows:

  • Iron deficiency anemia: It is one of the most common types of anemia, which causes the inability to produce enough hemoglobin in red blood cells. When the body does not receive enough iron, sufficient hemoglobin is not produced and thus low MCH occurs.

  • B12 or folate deficiency: B12 or folate deficiency causes red blood cells to be larger than normal, leading to a condition known as megaloblastic anemia and low MCH.

  • Thalassemia: Thalassemia is an inherited blood disease that causes the blood to contain less hemoglobin than normal. In thalassemia, red blood cells contain less hemoglobin and may be smaller than normal.

  • Sideroblastic anemia: Sideroblastic anemia is a bone marrow disease that causes the body to fail to produce enough healthy red blood cells. Low MCH occurs because not enough healthy erythrocytes are produced.

  • Chronic diseases: Especially in some inflammatory chronic diseases, such as cancers and kidney diseases, the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells and low MCH may occur.

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How is Low MCH Treated?

Treatment of low MCH is determined depending on the underlying causes, and the low level is eliminated by resolving the cause. Treatment of iron deficiency anemia is usually provided by using iron supplements and making changes in eating habits. If it is due to a reason such as B12 or folate deficiency, it can be treated by taking the missing vitamins through supplements or foods containing these vitamins. If left untreated, low MCH can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease and breathing difficulties, so if symptoms are present, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible and get treatment.

What is MCH Height?

Elevated MCH (mean erythrocyte hemoglobin) is when the average amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells exceeds the normal range. Since the normal MCH value range is 27-33 picograms (pg), a high MCH value is generally referred to as 34 pg and above. Since high MCH may cause serious health problems, it should be taken into consideration and treated.

What are the symptoms of MCH elevation?

Normally, high MCH does not cause any symptoms at first and is usually detected incidentally during a blood test. But depending on the underlying causes, high MCH may cause various symptoms. Some symptoms that may occur due to high MCH are:

  • Vitamin deficiency: If high MCH is caused by B12 or folic acid deficiency, symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and palpitations may occur.

  • Hemoglobinopathies: If MCH elevation is related to hemoglobinopathies (diseases caused by genetic changes in hemoglobin molecules), symptoms such as anemia, weakness, shortness of breath and palpitations may be observed.

  • Liver disease: If high MCH is associated with deterioration of liver functions, symptoms such as jaundice, itching, abdominal pain, weight loss and skin rash may occur.

  • Other diseases: If MCH elevation is caused by other blood diseases such as leukemia, myeloproliferative disorders, hemolytic anemia, thalassemia, symptoms related to these diseases may be observed.

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What Causes High MCH?

The most common cause of high MCH is B12 or folate deficiency, which can also cause low MCH. A deficiency of B12 or folic acid prevents erythrocytes from developing normally, resulting in larger than normal red blood cells. Larger red blood cells carry more hemoglobin than normal, causing elevated MCH. Some of the reasons that cause MCH elevation are:

  • B12 or folic acid deficiency: Lack of B12 and folic acid in the body prevents the normal formation of red blood cells and can cause high MCH.

  • Alcoholism: Chronic alcohol consumption can cause abnormal growth of red blood cells, resulting in elevated MCH.

  • Liver disease: Impairment of liver functions causes changes in the production of red blood cells and elevation of MCH is observed.

  • Hemoglobinopathies: Since hemoglobinopathies are diseases caused by genetic changes in hemoglobin molecules, the amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells may increase and MCH elevation may occur.

  • Other diseases: MCH elevation may also be associated with other blood diseases such as leukemia, myeloproliferative disorders, hemolytic anemia, thalassemia.

How is MCH Height Treated?

Treatment for high MCH is determined depending on the cause, as for low MCH. If B12 or folate deficiency is present, vitamin supplements are used; if it is caused by excessive alcohol consumption, alcoholism treatment is applied; if it is caused by other diseases, the MCH elevation is eliminated by applying the treatment of those diseases. For example, in hereditary blood diseases such as spherocytosis, treatment is carried out by surgical intervention through blood transfusions or splenectomy (spleen removal), thus preventing high MCH.

Since high and low MCH levels can cause serious health problems if left untreated, a doctor should be seen as soon as possible in the presence of symptoms.


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