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What is hemoglobin (HGB)?

Monday, September 6, 2021

Blood tests are routinely requested when we apply to health institutions due to various health problems. One of the tests that are almost always included among these blood tests is a complete blood count (hemogram) test. With complete blood count, the number of red and white blood cells in the blood fluid, the number of blood platelets, as well as some biochemical calculations are also included. Briefly, one of these parameters, expressed in letters such as RDW, HCT, MCHC, is the HGB, that is, the hemoglobin parameter.

Hemoglobin (HGB)

Hemoglobin, abbreviated as HGB, is a protein found in red blood cells in blood fluid. There are four proteins together with the iron ion in its structure. The main task it performs thanks to the iron ion is to transport the oxygen taken through the lungs in the blood to other tissues, and likewise, the harmful carbon dioxide produced in the tissues to be removed from the lungs. In this sense, it can be said that it is vital and indispensable for the body.

Hemoglobin is directly related to the amount of iron in the body and its ability to carry oxygen. For this reason, it is one of the first values ​​to be considered especially in anemia complaints and in measuring the success of anemia treatment. Likewise, before the surgery, the amount of blood of the body, that is, its ability to carry oxygen over the hemoglobin value in the blood, is evaluated on this parameter. Also, the loss in the amount of blood after the operation and its possible effects on the body are routinely monitored with the HGB value.

Serious decreases in HGB value must be treated as it will seriously affect the body’s ability to carry oxygen and thus its health. If necessary, a decision can be made to give blood to the patient according to the HGB value. Since hemoglobin is one of the iron stores in the body, it is very important in the evaluation of anemia due to iron deficiency.

What does low hemoglobin mean?

Low or higher hemoglobin is a sign of some health problems and determines the treatment method according to the level of the low. The normal range of hemoglobin that should be in a healthy body depends on age and gender; It also varies according to the genetic structure, hormonal status and body structure.

Therefore, the normal range values ​​stated in routine complete blood count do not reflect the truth for every patient. The most accurate evaluation of low or high hemoglobin depends on the opinion of a specialist physician.

However; Hemoglobin value ranges by age and gender are considered as follows:

For newborn: 13.5 – 24 gr / dl
For babies (0 – 3 years old): 11 – 13 gr / dl
For children (3 – 11 years old): 12 – 14 g / dl
For adult males: 13.5 – 17.5 gr / dl
For adult women: 12.5 – 15.5 gr / dl

If the hemoglobin value is detected below these reference values, it is interpreted as anemia. In this case, the cause of anemia is tried to be determined and the treatment approach is determined according to the problem.

Again, in hemoglobin values ​​determined above this reference range, it can be mentioned that blood production is excessive in the body. In this case, some hematological diseases can be detected as a result of evaluating some additional parameters or physiologically detected excess blood can be mentioned.

Who is hemoglobin checked?

Especially before and after the operation, if necessary, during the operation, to evaluate the patient’s blood condition and oxygen transport ability, and also in people with symptoms such as palpitation, fatigue and pallor due to low hemoglobin. In addition, complete blood count is routinely checked to detect mild hemoglobin levels without symptoms during routine examinations. HGB is also followed up in order to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment in people who are being followed up due to various blood diseases and people who have been treated for anemia.

What causes low hemoglobin?

The causes of low hemoglobin can often be explained by anemia reasons. In addition, low hemoglobin can be observed in some types of genetic anemia called Mediterranean anemia or thalassemia, in which the hemoglobin structure is congenitally defective, and hematological diseases such as sickle cell anemia. In this sense, the conditions that cause low hemoglobin can be summarized as follows:

  • Blood loss: In case of sudden or chronic, little or large blood loss from the body, low HGB can be detected. This situation can be observed after surgical interventions, in case of trauma, abnormal menstrual bleeding or presence of hidden bleeding foci.
  • Iron deficiency anemia: Low HGB is seen in iron deficiency anemia, which can develop as a result of the body’s inability to get enough iron support from the outside, the inability of the iron taken to be metabolically brought into the body, or iron loss due to chronic blood loss.
  • Anemias due to vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency: Hemoglobin production decreases in the deficiency of some vitamins required for the production of blood cells.
  • Anemias related to chronic diseases: Due to various underlying systemic diseases, iron metabolism in the body is negatively affected, causing disruptions in the production of blood cells.
  • Some special hematological diseases such as aplastic anemia: In cases where blood cells cannot be produced structurally, they are produced incorrectly and are rapidly removed from the blood by the body, the amount of hemoglobin decreases.
  • Hemolytic anemias: The amount of hemoglobin decreases as a result of the destruction of blood cells in the blood or tissues due to various infections or systemic diseases.
  • Structural diseases of hemoglobin: As in Mediterranean anemias, the amount of hemoglobin detected in complete blood count decreases as a result of genetically incorrect production of hemoglobin.
  • Certain drug therapies: Because various drugs can suppress the production of red blood cells from the bone marrow, they can cause low hemoglobin.
  • Children who cannot be fed with breast milk: Since breast milk is particularly rich in iron, anemia and therefore low HGB may be seen in babies who cannot be breastfed in the early period.

What symptoms are seen in low hemoglobin?

Generally, the patient does not have any complaints when mild HGB is detected. Frequently, low HGB is diagnosed during routine blood tests. However, the presence of some symptoms may indicate low hemoglobin and thus anemia. These symptoms can be listed as follows:

  • Weakness – tiredness
  • Pale skin
  • Unrest
  • Palpitation
  • Anorexia
  • Hair loss
  • The tendency to break or deform the nails
  • A lot of crying and joining spells, especially in children
  • Inattention and concentration difficulties in children

What is done in the treatment of low hemoglobin?

Correct detection of the underlying disease that causes low hemoglobin is a must for successful treatment. Since treatment planning will be made according to the source, when low hemoglobin is detected, a specialist physician should be evaluated.

When the underlying cause is determined as blood loss, further examinations are applied to determine the origin, amount, nature and underlying health problem of the blood loss. Treatment is planned accordingly.

If it is interpreted as anemia, studies are made to determine which type of anemia is effective. In anemia types due to iron deficiency or vitamin deficiency, while starting the support of the deficient substance; In structural or genetic diseases, a drug therapy-based approach is used.

However, if the HGB value is detected below a severe threshold (<7 g / dl), more aggressive treatment methods may be required. Since the body’s ability to carry oxygen is severely suppressed at this level, a rapid treatment is required. In this case, a decision can usually be made to give the patient an appropriate blood transfusion until the HGB value has been raised to a more controllable level.

If low hemoglobin is detected in your blood tests, it would be appropriate to consult a healthcare institution with a specialist physician in order to determine the underlying problem and determine the correct treatment method.

We wish you healthy days.

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