For the most part, most people only pay attention to blood in the direst of circumstances, which is why we see a lot of emphasis on blood products and the need to donate blood for people in need due to both emergency situations and planned medical procedures. However, what some people don’t realize is that there is a right and wrong way to approach blood health even if you aren’t in an accident or dealing with blood loss. Putting together some good practices in this regard is key, and here’s how you get started.
Where Things Go Wrong
One of the signature markers of blood health is a red blood count, also known as an erythrocyte count. The reason why this is so important is due to the fact that red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which is essential for carrying oxygen to the body’s tissues. These tissues can’t function without said oxygen, so you can imagine how a low red blood cell count can cause a lot of problems pretty quickly. In general, red blood cells circulate in the body for around 115 days before going into the liver and being recycled to provide nutrients to other cells.
When it comes to your red blood cell count, there are a number of different signals that may come up if your count is low. Some of the common symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- dizziness, weakness, or lightheadedness, particularly when you change positions quickly
- increased heart rate
- pale skin
While low red blood cells are the more common of the two scenarios, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing as well. High red blood cell count may occur due to low oxygen levels, kidney disease, and other health issues. There are a wide array of conditions that can make this happen, including:
- Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease in adults)
- Heart failure
- High altitudes
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Pulmonary fibrosis (scarred and damaged lungs)
- Other lung diseases
- Sleep apnea
- Nicotine dependence (smoking)
Certain drugs, such as anabolic steroids and blood doping, can also lead to stimulating the production of red blood cells, even if they aren’t needed. Dehydration also causes this issue, but in a roundabout way. Rather than there being too many blood cells, the liquid component of the blood decreases, leading to a higher concentration of red blood cells. High blood cell count symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- joint pain
- tenderness in the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
- itching skin, particularly after a shower or bath
- sleep disturbance
If you see a lot of these different conditions together, it may be time to go to a doctor to get a red blood cell test. In addition to requesting these, your doctor will give you one as a part of an overall routine exam, or before a surgery.
Your Health Measures
High blood cell count requires medical intervention, but in many cases, you can keep your red blood cell count stable by practicing good nutritional measures. Anemia is a common condition for many people, especially as we age. It basically is when the body has to work harder to deliver oxygen throughout the body due to a lack of cells.
There are several different types of anemia, ranging from anemia from a lack of iron to conditions like sickle-cell anemia, where the red blood cells have a unique shape that makes it difficult for them to flow through blood vessels smoothly. We already mentioned iron deficiency as one of the main causes of anemia, which is because it’s needed to make hemoglobin in the first place. The good news is that there are plenty of good ways to get iron, like shellfish, spinach, and lean red meats.
Other nutrients you will want to consume in order to keep your red blood cell count high include vitamin C, copper, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-9, Vitamin B-6, and Vitamin E. There are also ways to perform addition by subtraction, like lowering your alcohol consumption. Another potential option is using dietary supplements. These can benefit your health in a lot of ways, but consult with a doctor before getting started.
A surprising thing that can help is getting more exercise. This helps by stimulating the need for oxygen within the body. When your body gets this signal, it gives the signal to create more red blood cells.