How much do you know about your CBC (complete blood count), Blog eManageHealth

How much do you know about your CBC (complete blood count)?

What is meant by CBC?

CBC or complete blood count, is a common blood test that checks for variations from the ideal composition that a person should have. The ideal composition is based on various factors such as gender, age and medical history. A CBC essentially compares your blood against the normal parameters of a person in your circumstance. It is extremely useful in detecting prevalent disorders such as anaemia, cancerous cells & so on.

The basic structure of our blood:

White blood cells →

These are the warriors of our defence system. They fight against all foreign infiltrations such as infections. Any variance (increase or decrease) from the normal count of white blood cells is a sign of cancer, inflammation or infection.

Red blood cells →

Being the major carriers of oxygen to the organs, these cells are critical to our body and a CBC measures two key components of a red blood cell. These area) haemoglobin – the protein component that carries oxygen & b) haematocrit – the percentage of red blood cells in our blood.

Why get a CBC?

A CBC can be advised for the following reasons:

  • To evaluate overall wellbeing
  • Diagnosis of certain symptoms
  • To observe & supervise certain health problems
  • To check the effectiveness of a treatment

How to prepare for a CBC

Wear appropriate clothing as you will have to expose your arm for the test. Either wear short sleeves or something that you can roll-up, easily. There are no restrictions on what you can eat & drink, prior to the test. However, in case the blood is to be used for further testing (as advised by your doctor) you may be required to fast for a certain amount of time or take the test on an empty stomach, as soon as you wake up.

What happens during the procedure?

It is quite simple. An experienced nurse or technician will draw a measured amount of blood from your vein. There is barely any pain except for a slight prick of the needle. Post drawing the blood, the analyses takes a few hours only and you may receive the report on the evening of the same day or the next day morning. The basic steps followed by the nurse are outlined below:

  • Cleaning of the area with antiseptic solution
  • Tightening of the arm with an elastic band to make the vein more prominent
  • Insertion of the sterilised needle to draw the required amount of blood from the vein
  • Removal of elastic band
  • Placement of a tape bandage to curb the bleeding & cover the skin
  • Labelling of the sample collected and processing for analysis

How to read the results of a CBC:

When you get your results back from the lab, you will find that they would have also outlined the normal range for each of the components of your blood. These components include red blood cells, white blood cells, haemoglobin level and the haematocrit percentage. You need to check the results of your blood test to see if they fall within the normal range. Deviations from the same may result from various abnormalities in health. Since a CBC is not definitive, your doctor, based on your CBC, may ask you to take further tests, to determine the diagnosis.


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