How To Understand Red Blood Cells

Understanding red blood cells (RBCs), a key life force of the body, will take some research and inquiry with medical professionals. To better organize your research, you may choose to divide the information you need to obtain into subtopics, such as basic information regarding RBCs, the diseases associated with it, medical tests involving RBC, and ways of keeping red blood cells healthy.

Red blood cells. RBCs, also known as erythrocytes, are the most common type of blood cells. Their main purpose is to deliver oxygen to the body tissues via the blood. These cells are filled with hemogoblin, bio-molecules that can bind with oxygen. Hemoglobin is what allows the red blood cells to transport oxygen, and they are also what gives blood its red color.

In humans, red blood cells develop in the bone marrow, and they live for about 120 days. Adult humans have about 2-3 x 1013 red blood cells at any given time, and they are more common than other blood particles (other common blood particles are white blood cells and platelets).

Disease associated with red blood cells. Numerous diseases are associated with red blood cells, and some of these are:

  • Anemias. These are diseases (such as iron deficiency anemia, and aplastic anemia) that are characterized by red blood cells count or some other abnormalities of the RBCs that result in their low oxygen transport capacity. Some common symptoms of anemia are fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Another example of disease classified under anemia is sickle cell disease, which is a genetic disease resulting in abnormal hemoglobin molecules. This in turn causes misshaped red blood cells (sickle-shaped). Because of their shape, they tend to cause blood vessel damage, stroke, and other tissue damage.
  • Malaria. As the malaria parasite feeds on the hemoglobin in the red blood cells, this results in the RBCs being damaged and broken apart. The most common symptoms that manifest are severe fever and vomiting. Severe malaria can result in death.
  • Polycythemias. Also called erythrocytoses. They are characterized by a high red blood cell count.

Medical tests involved with red blood cells. Blood tests involving red blood cells include the RBC count (which determines the number of red blood cells per volume of blood) and hematocrit, which measures the percentage of blood volume occupied by the red blood cells.

How to keep red blood cells healthy.  Iron is used in the production of RBCs, so consuming enough is important to maintain the red blood cells' health. Some of the main sources of iron include fortified cereals, lean red meat, vegetables, fruits, eggs and dairy products. Iron supplements are also widely available.

This is just some information that would help you get started in your quest to understand red blood cells. Choose reliable websites affiliated with reputable medical institutions and universities for more information. You may also read up on the latest studies concerning red blood cells from scientific articles and magazines. Make sure that you consult your doctor or a medical professional to confirm your research or to get further information from them. Good luck!


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