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Anemia Panel - Comprehensive

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About Our Anemia Panel - Comprehensive

This group of blood tests is used to help identify anemic blood disorders and determine the underlying cause. Anemia is a condition when a person has a low amount of red blood cells associated with low hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen and delivers it throughout the body. When hemoglobin is low, your tissues or organs may not get enough oxygen-rich blood to function normally. 

Anemia is the most common blood disorder, and it can be associated with various factors, including poor diet, heavy bleeding or pregnancy in women, intestinal disorders, or chronic conditions like autoimmune, kidney, or liver disease. There are more than 400 types of anemia, which fall under three categories:

  • Anemia caused by blood loss
  • Anemia caused by decreased or faulty red blood cell production
  • Anemia caused by destruction of red blood cells

This test panel involves measuring the protein hemoglobin and the cells that make up your blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This group of tests also assesses other things associated with certain types of anemia, such as iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid. These are necessary for your red blood cells that work like they should.

This test panel includes the following tests:  

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
    • HemoglobinThe main protein in red blood cells which transports oxygen
    • HematocritThe amount of red blood cells in the blood
    • Red blood cell count (RBC)The amount of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the blood
    • White blood cell count (WBC)The amount of white blood cells, which fight off infection.
    • Platelet countThe amount of platelets,  a blood cell that helps form clots to stop bleeding
    • Mean corpuscular volume (MCV)The average volume of red blood cells in the blood
    • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH)The amount of hemoglobin in a given volume of red blood cells
    • Red cell distribution widthThe difference of red blood cell size or volume in the blood sample
    • Percentage and absolute differential counts—The amount of different white blood cell types within the blood
  • Iron—If your body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron, you may develop iron-deficiency anemia, a common type of anemia. 
  • Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC)—The total amount of iron that can be bound by proteins in the blood. It’s a measurement which helps differentiate between anemia types, and it helps indicate the availability of transferrin, an iron-binding protein in the blood.  
  • Ferritin—A blood protein that contains iron. It’s released from cells when the body signals to make more red blood cells. If there is an iron deficiency, ferritin levels will be low.
  • Vitamin B12—Also called cobalamin, vitamin B12 helps make blood cells and DNA, the genetic material in all cells of your body. It also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia. If your body isn’t able to absorb vitamin B12, it can cause pernicious anemia. 
  • Folic acid—A type of vitamin B that helps make new red blood cells. Folate-deficiency anemia is caused by low levels of folic acid in the blood. This can cause blood cells that are larger and fewer than normal.

Signs of Anemia

Mild or moderate anemia may cause few or no symptoms and be easy to overlook. Many people don’t realize they have anemia until it’s determined with a blood test. The different types of anemia can have very similar symptoms, despite their different causes.

When symptoms of anemia occur, they can include:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Lack of energy
  • Pale skin
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Cold or numb feeling in hands or feet
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain 

What's the Difference Between the Basic Anemia Panel and the Comprehensive Anemia Panel?

Both the Basic Anemia Panel and the Comprehensive Anemia Panel contain a Complete Blood Count (which assesses hemoglobin and components of your blood) and measure iron and total iron-binding capacity (which are related to iron-deficiency anemia, one of the most common types of anemia). However, there are other types of anemia that can be caused by other factors, and the Comprehensive Anemia Panel includes additional tests that can help identify them.

Medically Reviewed by: 2019-05-16

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