MCV: What is it, Symptoms, Treatment, High and Low
MCV, which is one of the parameters examined in a group of blood tests known as blood count or hemogram, shows the sizes of red blood cells.
MCV, which is one of the parameters examined in a group of blood tests known as blood count or hemogram, shows the sizes of red blood cells. High or low MCV, which can be associated with various health problems in the body, can be used as a research method in diagnosing the diseases in question or evaluating the effectiveness of treatment. Slight increases and decreases in the MCV value in blood results do not always indicate a serious health problem. However, since various diseases can also affect the MCV value, blood results must be shown to the physician.
What is MCV?
The majority of blood tests performed in healthcare institutions include blood counts. The MCV value measured in the blood count is the abbreviation of the term “Mean Corpuscular Volume”. There are three different types of blood cells in the blood: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The MCV value, measured by examining the blood sample under a microscope, is used to calculate the average size of red blood cells. Red blood cells, also called erythrocytes, are responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood and deliver oxygen from the lungs to cells in the body. In order for cells to survive, grow and multiply in a healthy way, they need oxygen and therefore erythrocytes to deliver this oxygen to the cells. Erythrocytes that are larger or smaller than normal may be caused by anemia, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, or a different medical problem. MCV test can be used to investigate such a situation.
What are the symptoms of MCV?
High MCV and low MCV directly affect the transport of oxygen in the blood. Therefore, if the MCV value goes out of the normal range, it causes various symptoms in proportion to the extent of the high or low level. Some common symptoms of high or low MCV are:
- Shortness of breath
- pain in chest
- Loss of appetite and involuntary weight loss
- Pale or yellowing of the skin
- Problems related to hair loss and nail structure
Apart from these, if anemia problem develops due to reasons such as B12 deficiency, folic acid deficiency, the MCV value may be affected as a result. When MCV disorders occur due to B12 deficiency anemia, problems such as tingling in the hands and feet, nausea and vomiting, gas problems and abdominal bloating, depression, and difficulty in concentration may occur. In anemia caused by folic acid deficiency, in addition to problems related to the MCV value, symptoms such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, irritability, and tenderness of the tongue may occur. It would be beneficial for people experiencing such symptoms to contact their healthcare provider and have blood tests, including a complete blood count.
What Causes MCV?
There may be many different reasons for MCV increase and decrease. The normal range of MCV value is 80 to 100 fL. According to these values, the most common cause of MCV values that are lower than normal is insufficient red blood cell production, that is, anemia. Therefore, most of the symptoms of low MCV are similar to the symptoms of anemia. High MCV can occur due to various health problems. Some of these are as follows:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and B12 deficiency
- Folic acid deficiency
- Insufficient functioning of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
- Aplastic anemia caused by bone marrow failure
- Liver failure
- Side effects of various medications
- Some congenital diseases
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Hematological diseases
How to Diagnose MCV?
MCV value being lower or higher than normal may be due to many situations as mentioned above. In the presence of a serious health problem, disorders in different blood parameters often occur. For this reason, all parameters included in the complete blood count should be evaluated together. If the cause is anemia, different values such as hemoglobin and hematocrit in the blood count will be sufficient to detect this condition. If anemia is not an issue, it is likely that some different screening tests will be needed for diagnosis. At the same time, the problem related to MCV can be fully diagnosed and the treatment process can be planned accordingly by methods such as taking the patient’s detailed medical history, evaluating the medications used, learning about accompanying health problems, physical examination and examining radiology images.
What are the symptoms that occur with MCV?
An MCV value below 80 fL is indicative of microcytic disorder, and a value above 100 fL is indicative of macrocytic disorder. Symptoms of low MCV include fatigue, loss of strength, shortness of breath, dizziness, and pale skin. This condition is called microcytic anemia and is usually caused by different conditions such as anemia, thalassemia (Mediterranean anemia) and lead poisoning in some cases. Elevated MCV is called macrocytosis. In this case, symptoms such as loss of appetite, heart palpitations, fatigue, shortness of breath, diarrhea, difficulty in concentration and forgetfulness occur. Some people may notice a low or high MCV value in their blood results without feeling any symptoms. Slightly high and slightly low MCV close to the limit may not cause any symptoms in the patient, and may even be a temporary condition. However, the cause should still be investigated.
MCV High and Low
MCV values provide important information in evaluating the treatment processes of diseases such as esophageal cancer, kidney disease, and rectal cancer, and in researching the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In addition, it is useful to examine MCV values to evaluate cognitive functions in cases such as forgetfulness, focusing problems, and distraction. In such cases, high or low MCV values can be very decisive in determining the treatment plan. It is not possible to diagnose any disease based on the MCV test result alone. Therefore, high or low values should be evaluated by the physician and, if necessary, different diagnostic methods should be used.
How to Pass MCV?
Determining the cause of the high or low MCV value is the first step in returning blood values to normal. It is very important to take a detailed medical history of the patient during the diagnosis phase. Some diseases that the person may have, medications that are constantly used, or problems with eating habits may have paved the way for this situation. After obtaining information on such issues, physicians can evaluate various disease possibilities by ordering different blood tests and radiological imaging examinations. If anemia is detected, first the type of this anemia is determined. Different causes such as vitamin B12, folic acid or iron deficiency, as well as diseases such as thalassemia, can cause anemia. If there is a vitamin or mineral deficiency, the missing vitamin or mineral is supplemented. These supplements can be administered as oral pills or by injection. In severe deficiencies, supplementation with intramuscular injection gives faster results.
Gastrointestinal system bleeding may be suspected in anemias whose cause cannot be determined. When conditions such as gastritis, ulcers and intestinal diseases cause blood loss through the digestive system, they predispose to anemia. Therefore, if there is no vitamin or mineral deficiency and the person does not have a disease that will cause anemia, this possibility should also be evaluated. If bleeding is detected by performing a fecal occult blood test, the digestive system can be examined using methods such as endoscopy and colonoscopy. In thalassemia, if severe anemia develops, blood transfusion may be needed when blood values fall below certain limits. Apart from these, if MCV is low or high due to any chronic disease, a treatment plan is determined for the relevant disease.
If you see in your blood results that your MCV value is outside the reference range, you can consult your doctor to get information about the reasons for this situation and, if necessary, have additional diagnostic tests.