An RBC count is a blood test that measures how many red blood cells (RBCs) you have.
RBCs contain hemoglobin, which carries oxygen. How much oxygen your body tissues get depends on how many RBCs you have and how well they work.
A blood sample is needed.
No special preparation is necessary for adults.
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.
The RBC count is almost always part of the CBC (complete blood count) test.
The test can help diagnose different kinds of anemia (low number of RBCs) and other conditions affecting red blood cells.
Additional conditions under which an RBC count may be performed:
Normal RBC range is:
The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
Higher-than-normal numbers of RBCs may be due to:
Your RBC count will increase for several weeks when you move to a higher altitude.
Drugs that can increase the RBC count include:
Lower-than-normal numbers of RBCs may be due to:
Drugs that can decrease the RBC count include:
There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:
Erythrocyte count; Red blood cell count
Bunn HF. Approach to the anemias. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 161.
Mathur SC, Schexneider KI, Hutchison RE. Hematopoiesis. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 31.
Updated by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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