What is MCHC Blood Test?
Typically, doctors will order a blood test to look at the cells in your bloodstream, including white blood cells (WBC), red blood cells (RBC), and platelets. One of the red blood indices is the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) or simply the average number of hemoglobin in a person’s red blood cell.
Typically, a doctor will order the MCHC blood test for patients with symptoms such as fatigue, skin paleness, shortness of breath, weakness, and dizziness. The test will verify if you have anemia, a medical condition wherein a person has problems with his hemoglobin levels. In addition, an infection and certain nutrient deficiencies will also cause fluctuations in hemoglobin levels.
What does a Low or High MCHC Mean?
A low MCHC will indicate that a person’s red blood cells have low concentrations of hemoglobin. The patient’s RBC will also have a pale color.
Patients with thalassemia have a low MCHC. It is a hereditary blood disorder, which results in low amounts of hemoglobin and few red blood cells. The common treatments for this medical condition are blood transfusion and stem cell transplant.
Iron deficiency anemia will also result in low hemoglobin concentrations. It occurs when the body is unable to create hemoglobin due to insufficient iron. The possible causes of iron deficiency are the following:
- Blood loss due to heavy menstruation or a colon tumor
- Not eating a lot of foods rich in iron
- Low absorption of iron in the intestines due to Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease
A high MCHC signifies that a person has high amounts of hemoglobin and the RBC has a dark pigment. This result can point to various medical conditions including the following:
- Spherocytosis is a hereditary disease that affects the surface layer of the RBC. The most common treatment is the removal of the spleen through surgery. However, spleen removal will only treat the anemia. It will not affect the abnormal shape of the RBC caused by a defect in the genes.
- Hemolytic anemia is an autoimmune disease wherein the body is destroying its own red blood cells. The common treatments for this medical condition are a blood transfusion, immunosuppressant drugs, folic acid supplements, and iron supplements.
- A deficiency in folic acid is another possible cause of high concentrations of hemoglobin because this vitamin is essential in the formation of RBC.
- The liver plays an important role in the formation of blood. If a person has a liver disease, it may result in high concentrations of hemoglobin.
- Burn victims will also have a high MCHC.
Normal Values: Healthy adults will have a normal value of MCHC, which ranges from 33 to 36 g/dL or 28 to 33%.
Low: Patients with a low MCHC will have a result of less than 28%.
High: A result that is more than 33% is a high MCHC.
How are MCHC Blood Tests Performed?
The MCHC is part of the complete blood count (CBC) test. The first step is to draw a person’s blood into a sample tube. An anticoagulant is added to the blood.
The blood sample will be placed in a Coulter counter for analysis once it has passed through the hole. There the quantity and size of the blood cells are measured. To get the hematocrit number, the analyst multiples the total amount of RBC and its size.
Once the RBC bursts, the amount of hemoglobin is measured. An automated instrument will calculate the MCHC value.
Ways to Improve your MCHC Levels?
Before improving your MCHC levels, you must first identify the underlying cause with the help of your doctor. Once you know the underlying cause of your abnormal MCHC, you may try the following:
- Dietary Changes
For abnormal MCHC levels caused by nutrient deficiency, dietary changes will help improve your condition.
For those who have an iron deficiency, you can increase your intake of foods rich in iron such as beans, red meat, seafood products, poultry products, and spinach. Keep in mind that the body can easily absorb iron from animal sources compared to plant products. If you are a vegetarian, taking an iron supplement is a good option to get enough amounts of this mineral. In addition, taking vitamin B6 together with an iron supplement will greatly increase the absorption of iron.
For those with vitamin B deficiency, the excellent sources of folic acid are green leafy vegetables like spinach, citrus fruits, beans, rice, and cereals. Taking supplements containing folate is another option. You can ask your doctor about a good quality product containing this vitamin.
Vitamin C is another vitamin that may cause low concentrations of hemoglobin. Supplementation and eating foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits will help improve your MCHC levels.
For patients with Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, it is crucial to watch your gluten intake since it can affect your iron absorption. You can improve your MCHC by opting for a healthy diet and avoiding foods containing gluten such as wheat, rye, and barley.
Some drugs can cause abnormal levels of MCHC. An example for this is the medical condition known as the drug-induced hemolytic anemia wherein a certain drug can trigger the body’s immune system to attack its own RBC. Drugs that may cause this type of anemia are NSAIDs, cephalosporin, levofloxacin, penicillin, and methyldopa.
For this reason, if you are taking any medications, you need to ask your doctor if it can affect your hemoglobin levels. If it can, you can ask for an alternative drug.
- Systematic Malfunctioning
One may have an abnormal MCHC because of cancer, a defect in the bone marrow, and kidney failure. If this is the case, a specialized treatment is necessary to improve your hemoglobin concentrations.
The MCHC blood test can help determine if you have certain medical conditions such as anemia or folic acid deficiency. Whether you have low or high concentrations of hemoglobin, there are ways to improve it. Depending on the cause, your doctor can provide several treatments.
It is vital that your hemoglobin levels should remain in the normal range. Remember, red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Thus, it plays a role in human survival and the proper functioning of the human body.