Blood and Urine Tests Part 2 (The CBC)

An announcement!

I’ve decided to start an FREE ezine (this is an e-mail  newsletter), which will contain all the Fibro Tips and Fibro facts I had posted daily during the week. Also the blogs.

This is because I realize many of you are not on the Facebook page every day and might miss the day’s tips and facts or miss the blog which is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

All you have to do is send me your e-mail address to and write ezine in the description (also your full name) and I’ll send them out every Friday afternoon. Remember this is free!

I can’t accept your request by Facebook message as it gets too complicated, just e-mail me, again and write ezine in the description.


Complete Blood Test

I’ve spoken again and again of the importance of having your blood and urine tested at least every 3 months due to the medications you’re taking for your Fibromyalgia. Today’s blog will explain what a Complete Blood Count (one of the most basic blood tests) is and what are its components. It might seem a bit complicated at first, but if you take the time to read it, you’ll see how simple these tests are and how the non health professional can easily understand it. Remember, education is power!

Complete Blood Cell Test (CBC)

The complete blood count (CBC) is one of the most commonly ordered blood tests. The complete blood count is the calculation of the cellular (formed elements) of blood. These calculations are generally determined by special machines that analyze the different components of blood in less than a minute.

A major portion of the complete blood count is the measure of the concentration of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in the blood.

White Blood Cells:

Definition of White blood cell count

White blood cell count (leukocyte count): The number of white blood cells (WBCs) in the blood. The WBC is usually measured as part of the CBC (complete blood count). White blood cells are the infection-fighting cells in the blood and are distinct from the red (oxygen-carrying) blood cells known as erythrocytes. There are different types of white blood cells, including neutrophils (polymorphonuclear leukocytes; PMNs), band cells (slightly immature neutrophils), T-type lymphocytes (T cells), B-type lymphocytes (B cells), monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. All the types of white blood cells are reflected in the white blood cell count. The normal range for the white blood cell count varies between laboratories but is usually between 4,300 and 10,800 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. This can also be referred to as the leukocyte count and can be expressed in international units as 4.3 – 10.8 x 109 cells per liter.

A low white blood cell count is called leukopenia. A high white blood cell count is termed leukocytosis.

Types of White Blood Cells:

There are five types of white blood cells, which all work together to ensure a healthy immune system. The five types are neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes. There are three types of lymphocyte found in the bloodstream, B- lymphocytes, T-lymphocyte and natural killer cells. B-lymphocytes make antibodies, which bind to the pathogens to ensure their destruction. T -lymphocyte cells recognize foreign antigens on the surface of other cells. They then stimulate the B-lymphocyte cells to produce antibodies. Natural killer cells are able to kill cells of the body which are displaying a signal to kill them, such as cancerous cells.


  • Neutrophils defend the body against bacterial or fungal infections and are usually the first responders to microbial infections.
  • Eosinophils deal with parasitic infections. An increase in eosinophils usually will indicate to a physician that there is a parasitic infection present.
  • Basophils, the least common, are responsible for allergic and antigen responses of the body by releasing histamine causing inflammation. Lymphocytes are the most common white blood cell in children and the second most common in adults.
  • Lymphocytes numbers increase in response to viral infections within the body. Monocytes form in the bone marrow and spleen, and circulate to ingest large foreign particles and cell debris.
  • Monocytes serve an important function as they provide pathogens to T- lymphocytes. This is so the pathogens can be recognized upon entering the body and killed.

Red blood cell:

The function of the red blood cell is to carry oxygen which it picks up from the lungs and rid the body of Carbon Dioxide.  Red cells contain hemoglobin and it is the hemoglobin which permits them to transport oxygen (and carbon dioxide). Hemoglobin, aside from being a transport molecule, is a pigment. It gives the cell its red color (and name).

The mature red blood cell (RBC) is a non-nucleated biconcave disk. Thanks to this unusual shape and its hemoglobin content, the RBC is well suited to the transport of oxygen.

A red blood cell is sometimes simply referred to as a red cell. It is also called an erythrocyte or, rarely today, a red blood corpuscle.

The Hematocrit

The hematocrit is the proportion, by volume, of the blood that consists of red blood cells. The hematocrit (hct) is expressed as a percentage. For example, a hematocrit of 25% means that there are 25 milliliters of red blood cells in 100 milliliters of blood.


Hemoglobin is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs.

Hemoglobin is made up of four protein molecules (globulin chains) that are connected together. The normal adult hemoglobin (Hbg) molecule contains 2 alpha-globulin chains and 2 beta-globulin chains. In fetuses and infants, there are only a few beta chains and the hemoglobin molecule is made up of 2 alpha chains and 2 gamma chains. As the infant grows, the gamma chains are gradually replaced by beta chains.

Each globulin chain contains an important central structure called the heme molecule. Embedded within the heme molecule is iron that transports the oxygen and carbon dioxide in our blood. The iron contained in hemoglobin is also responsible for the red color of blood.

Hemoglobin also plays an important role in maintaining the shape of the red blood cells. Abnormal hemoglobin structure can, therefore, disrupt the shape of red blood cells and impede its function and its flow through blood vessels.

Mean Corpuscular (cell) volume:

A standard part of the complete blood count, the mean cell volume (MCV) is the average volume of a red blood cell. This is a calculated value derived from the hematocrit and the red cell count (The hematocrit is the ratio of the volume of red cells to the volume of whole blood while the red cell count is the number of red blood cells in a volume of blood). The normal range for the mean cell volume is 86 – 98 femtoliters.

Mean Cell hemoglobin:

The average amount of hemoglobin in the average red cell. The mean cell hemoglobin (MCH) is a calculated value derived from the measurement of hemoglobin and the red cell count. (The hemoglobin value is the amount of hemoglobin in a volume of blood while the red cell count is the number of red blood cells in a volume of blood.) The normal range for the MCH is 27 – 32 picograms.

Mean cell hemoglobin concentration:

The average concentration of hemoglobin in a given volume of blood. The MCHC is a calculated value derived from the measurement of hemoglobin and the hematocrit. (The hemoglobin value is the amount of hemoglobin in a volume of blood while the hematocrit is the ratio of the volume of red cells to the volume of whole blood.) The normal range for the MCHC is 32 – 36%.

Red cell distribution width:

A measurement of the variability of red blood cell size. Higher numbers indicate greater variation in size. The normal range for the red cell distribution width (RDW) is 11 – 15.

Platelet count: The calculated number of platelets in a volume of blood usually expressed as platelets per cubic millimeter (cmm) of whole blood. Platelets are the smallest cell-like structures in the blood and are important for blood clotting and plugging damaged blood vessels. Platelet counts are usually done by laboratory machines that also count other blood elements such as the white and red cells. They can also be counted by use of a microscope. Normal platelet counts are in the range of 150,000 to 400,000 per microliter (or 150 – 400 x 109 per liter). These values many vary slightly between different laboratories.

Mean Platelet Volume (MPV).

The average size of platelets in a volume of blood.


Dr. Gene Martin

Fibromyalgia Relief Center of the Bay Area

520 S El Camino Real, Ste 520

San Mateo, Ca. 94402


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