Why are red blood cells elevated, what does this mean?

Red blood cells are red blood cells that are synthesized by the red bone marrow and perform a transport function, as they are able to transport oxygen from the lungs to all organs and tissues and take the spent carbon dioxide back to the lungs.

In addition to respiratory function, they take part in the water, salt metabolism, regulate the acidity of the blood. Therefore, for optimal coordinated work of all organ systems, it is necessary that the level of these cells in the human body be within the age limit.

For an adult man is from 4.0 to 5.3 × 10 ײ units per liter of blood, for women - 3.7 to 4.7 × 10¹². If your analysis showed an elevated red blood cell count, that is, more than the accepted norm, this may indicate various reasons. Consider them in more detail below.

Red blood cell norm

To ascertain the increased red blood cell count, it is important to know the normal limits established. The rates of red blood cells in the blood vary, depending on gender and age. So, below we imagine how many red blood cells in a healthy person is considered acceptable:

  1. In a woman, the rate of red blood cells ranges from 3.7 to 4.7 million in 1 μl, or 3.7-4.7 x 1012 in 1 l.
  2. The rate of red blood cells in a blood test of a pregnant woman can decrease significantly, up to 3-3.5 x 1012 in 1 l.
  3. In an adult male, the normal red blood cell count varies from 4 to 5.1 million in 1 μl, or from 4 to 5.1 x 1012 in 1 l;
  4. In children under one year, the concentration of red blood cells is constantly changing, so for each month (for newborns - every day) there is a norm. And if suddenly in a blood test, red blood cells are raised in a child of two weeks old to 6.6 x 1012 / l, then this cannot be regarded as a pathology, just for newborns such a rate (4.0 - 6.6 x 1012 / l).
  5. Some fluctuations are observed after a year of life, but normal values ​​are not very different from those in adults. In adolescents 12-13 years old, the hemoglobin content in erythrocytes and the level of erythrocytes themselves correspond to the norm of adults.

If red blood cells are elevated in the blood test, this may indicate serious dehydration, erythremia - chronic leukemia, as well as other disorders that may not pose a serious health hazard. Consider the causes of increased red blood cells in the general analysis of blood in more detail.

Primary and secondary erythrocytosis

The etiology of erythrocytosis divides them into primary, or hereditary, and secondary, that is, acquired.

  1. Primary erythrocytosis. It is quite rare and is a hereditary disease. The reason for its occurrence is considered the low susceptibility of the kidney oxygen receptors, as well as the high level of the hormone erythropoietin. Symptoms of this type are considered to be fatigue, dizziness, staining of the skin and mucous membranes in purple color, reduced blood clotting.
  2. Secondary erythrocytosis. Unlike the previous one, this species is a consequence of acquired diseases. Its cause is oxygen starvation of cells, which is caused by a disease of the respiratory organs, the development of tumors in the liver and kidneys.

In the absence of treatment of primary erythrocytosis, vascular complications are possible, especially with regard to the coagulation factor leading to the formation of thrombosis.

Causes of elevated red blood cells

Why are red blood cells elevated, and what does it mean? The increase in the number of red blood cells in one unit of blood volume in medicine is called erythrocytosis. This phenomenon is extremely rare.

The physiological increase in the number of red blood cells occurs mainly under severe emotional stress, with excessive dehydration of the body, in athletes during prolonged physical exertion, or in those who live in mountainous terrain.

High levels of red blood cells in the blood are a sign of pathology and true erythrocytosis, if they are the result of increased formation of red blood cells caused by unlimited reproduction of the precursor cell and its differentiation into mature forms of erythrocytes (erythremia).

In this regard, the pathological increase in the level of red blood cells in the blood provoke such diseases:

  1. Vaquez disease (also called erythremia) is a pathology caused by myeloproliferative bone marrow disease (i.e., hemoblastosis or a tumor of the hematopoietic organs). As a result, other hematopoietic sprouts are activated and pronounced erythrocytosis is combined with leuko- and thrombocytosis.
  2. Heart defects. The main danger of all heart defects is that the venous and arterial blood, which should not touch, mix. When the blood enriched with oxygen and the blood with carbon dioxide are mixed, the transport of oxygen to the tissues becomes difficult. To compensate for this lack of bone marrow produces more red blood cells.
  3. The liver and kidneys are involved in the process of disposing of obsolete, old red blood cells. With the development of tumors and the presence of metastases, they often stop the implementation of this function, in view of what in the blood notes the predominance of the mature forms. It is worth noting that with respiratory and heart diseases, erythremia and infectious diseases, the increase in the number of erythrocytes occurs precisely at the expense of the young, often reticular, forms.
  4. Lung diseases. With an insufficient amount of oxygen, and respiratory diseases always lead to such a condition, the number of erythrocytosis increases.
  5. Malignant tumors, especially of the liver, kidneys, pituitary and adrenal glands.
  6. Aerza disease (synonym: primary pulmonary hypertension).
  7. Pickwick syndrome, which is formed by a triad of symptoms: severe obesity, pulmonary insufficiency and high blood pressure numbers.

Less dangerous causes of elevated red blood cells in an adult:

  1. There are not enough enzymes necessary for digestion, so the body has to produce more red blood cells in order to digest food.
  2. Dehydration or excessively hot weather, this is especially marked with prolonged heavy loads.
  3. The use of poor-quality water, that is, chlorinated, dirty or highly carbonated.
  4. Inadequate intake of vitamins or lack of them as a result of abnormal liver function.
  5. Smoking, due to an excess of carboxyhemoglobin.

Since there are a lot of reasons causing an increased number of red blood cells in the blood, only a specialist can determine what triggered this process in you and prescribe the necessary treatment.

Erythrocytes are increased in the blood of a child: what does this mean?

When erythrocytes are elevated in a child’s blood, doctors consider this phenomenon as a pathology. They associate it with a variety of life factors:

  • low concentration of oxygen in the mother's blood - the most common reason for which red blood cells are elevated in a child (newborn);
  • regular passive effects on the child's body of tobacco smoke. This situation is typical for families in which one or both parents smoke.
  • mountain living;
  • regular exercise.

The most likely pathological causes of high red blood cell levels in children are:

  • congenital heart defects;
  • disruption of the bone marrow;
  • hypertension of the pulmonary circulation;
  • blood diseases, including erythremia;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • diseases of the respiratory system in the acute stage - bronchitis, rhinitis, allergies;
  • severe obesity (third or fourth degree);
  • dehydration (dehydration) of the body with prolonged diarrhea and vomiting;
  • dysfunction of the adrenal cortex.

The most formidable diagnosis in which there is an increase in the number of red blood cells in the blood is cancer of the liver or kidneys. Erythrocytosis is not a separate independent disease, it only indicates the presence of adverse factors in the child’s life or already developed diseases. Only an experienced specialist can determine what exactly caused an increase in the number of red blood cells in a child's blood and prescribe appropriate treatment.


The consequence of a strong blood saturation with red blood cells is the occurrence of irregularities in the work of almost all tissues, organs and organ systems of a person. The blood acquires a thicker consistency, which leads to a deterioration in the processes of respiration and blood supply to the cells.

Disruption of blood supply leads to impaired functioning of the cerebral cortex. With an increased number of red blood cells in humans revealed an increase in the volume of the liver, spleen and kidneys. All complications that occur in a person with an increase in the number of blood corpuscles may eventually lead to his death.


The main objective of the treatment of erythrocytosis is the removal of excess, excessively arising erythrocytes by reducing the degree of blood viscosity. In therapy using complex methods with the use of drugs. If erythrocytosis is associated with diseases of the respiratory or cardiovascular system, then the main disease is treated in the first place. The main rule of dealing with erythrocytosis is the elimination of the cause of the pathological condition.

You can add to the diet more natural fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and trace elements. They are necessary for the formation of the correct forms of red blood cells, which will prevent the number of their pathological forms in the blood (spherical, sickle-shaped, elliptical).

Finally, it should be said that the analysis obtained is of diagnostic value only if it is combined with the characteristic clinical symptoms of the disease, which the therapist or hematologist can correctly assess and assign the appropriate further examination program.

Watch the video: The Role of Red Blood Cells in Anemia (January 2020).


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