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Hematocrit Test

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A hematocrit test measures the proportion of red blood cells in your body. Your blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Plasma is a fluid that contains red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Plasma helps in blood circulation through your body. Haemoglobin is a protein present in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to all your organs from your lungs. Abnormal hematocrit levels hint at a few medical conditions, including blood disorders and dehydration

Why is Hematocrit Test Done? 

A hematocrit test is part of the complete blood count (CBC). It is essential to know the proportion of red blood cells in your blood to assess your health condition better. Your doctor may suggest a hematocrit test if you exhibit symptoms of anemia, a blood disorder, or polycythemia vera, and in any of the following cases: 

  • If you suffer from breathing issues frequently
  • If you have symptoms like dizziness, lightheadedness, and frequent headaches 
  • If you have pale skin
  • If you have cold feet and palms
  • If your doctor observes flushed skin and rashes
  • If you have frequent itching and sweating
  • If you experience vision trouble or double vision
  • If you experience fatigue and tiredness

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Before the Procedure:

The hematocrit test is a quick and straightforward procedure. It is a non-invasive test. 

  • Tell your doctor about your medications. Your doctor might ask you to discontinue a few medicines, but this happens in rare cases.  
  • Talk to your doctor and get the details of the test. 

During the Procedure: 

Hematocrit test typically takes 10-20 minutes as it is a simple procedure. 

  • A medical professional will take a blood sample from your vein or arm. 
  • The medical professional will initially clean the surface from where the blood is to be drawn. 
  • The lab professional will take blood from a vein on the inside of your elbow. 
  • Your lab professional will place an elastic band around the region from where the blood is drawn to avoid swelling of the vein. 
  • Your nurse will then insert the needle to draw the blood sample. He/she will take the blood sample in one or two vials. 
  • You might initially feel a prickling sensation, but it subsides after a couple of minutes. 
  • After taking blood, the lab professional will close the wound with a band-aid to enable better and quicker healing of the swollen wound. 
  • Your blood samples will be sent to a laboratory for further examination
  • The technician will separate the contents of blood and add an anticoagulant to prevent your blood from clotting. The contents, including red blood cells, plasma, and anticoagulants, will settle separately in the test tube after spinning in a centrifuge. 
  • The technician will compare the separated red blood cells with a guide to note the count PERCENTAGE of your red blood cells. 

After the Procedure: 

Hematocrit is a non-invasive test and does not require hospitalization after the procedure. However, if you experience discomfort at the injection site, press the site with cotton to prevent blood flow and reduce the prickling sensation. 

If you feel dizzy, you can rest for an hour after the procedure. This happens only in rare cases, and you will be normal within an hour 

  • The hematocrit test is simple. Hence, you can resume your regular activities immediately. 

Hematocrit Test: Results 

Normal Hematocrit Levels

Your condition is abnormal if your hematocrit results are not in line with the following range. The hematocrit levels usually vary between genders and age groups. 

  • Men: 41% to 51%
  • Women: 36% – 44%
  • New born: 45% – 61%
  • Toddlers: 32% – 42% 

A lower hematocrit level indicates any of the following condition: 

  • Anemia: Anemia is a health condition where your body produces insufficient red blood cells. 
  • White blood cell disorder: A lower hematocrit level may indicate production of an overwhelming number of white blood cells. 
  • Vitamin deficiency: The lower hematocrit level may be due to vitamin deficiency
  • Blood loss: Blood loss can sometimes cause a lower hematocrit level. 

A higher hematocrit level indicates the following conditions: 

  • It may be due to heart diseases. 
  • A higher hematocrit level may sometimes be due to lung disorders. 
  • Dehydration. 

Risks involved 

The hematocrit test is a standard procedure performed to check the proportion of red blood cells in your blood. Hence, it is a safe method. However, you may experience discomfort temporarily. This may include: 

  • Slight pain as well as swelling at the site of injection. 
  • You may experience infection and irritation at the site of injection sometimes. But this happens only if the needles are unsterilized. So, make sure that your medical helpers use sterilized needles. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): 

Can pregnant women take this test? 

A hematocrit test is a simple blood test. So, pregnant women can also take it. However, please consult your doctor before going for the test. 

Can older people take a hematocrit test? 

The hematocrit test is a safe procedure. Hence, people of any age group can undergo this test. 

Should I stop taking other medications before the test? 

You do not have to stop your medications. But consult your doctor before the test. In rare cases, he/she may require you to stop your medication temporarily.  

The hematocrit test may not always be accurate. Various factors contribute to inaccurate results, including pregnancy, recent blood transfusion, dehydration, etc. If this happens, your doctor will ask you to undergo the hematocrit test once again. However, this happens in rare cases.

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At Apollo, we believe that easily accessible, reliable health information can make managing health conditions an empowering experience. AskApollo Online Health Library team consists of medical experts who create curated peer-reviewed medical content that is regularly updated and is easy-to-understand.
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