2.14. RBC = red blood cell

If one has more red blood cells in one's blood, does that make one somehow more red/warm, more capable of love? If one has fewer, does it make one colder, and care less?

Image source: diygeekery.com

No, of course not. An abnormally high number of red blood cells may make one look flushed, but these blood elements have nothing to do with feelings. Red blood cells, aka erythrocytes, through their hundreds of thousands of hemoglobin molecules, carry 4 molecules of oxygen per hemoglobin molecule, everywhere in the body. This makes the basic metabolism that enables life possible. Too little or too many red blood cells are not good. Neither are abnormally shaped ones.

Low red blood cells = anemia, which could be caused by blood loss, low production, or destruction. To help with deficiency-related production problems, one may increase intake of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12. If low levels are related to a condition, such as pregnancy or Crohn's disease, treatment may or may not exist or be necessary. Same goes for destruction of blood cells occuring through infection, medication side effects, or disorders/disease.

If one has a higher than normal percentage of red blood cells, this may be due to 1) being a baby, 2) blood doping, or 3) disorder/disease. Babies grow extra red blood cells to help their adorable bodies get much needed oxygen. Olympians may train at a high altitude, where oxygen is more scarce, to force their bodies to produce more red blood cells that will improve their endurance, or they may transfuse extra red blood cells into their circulation for the same effect (and lie about it). A particularly ruddy-cheeked patient may have rubra vera, a condition where the body overproduces blood cells ranging from red to white to platelets. Too many of these cells will clog arteries just like excess glucose or cholesterol. In some conditions, red blood cells are even known to form rouleaux, stacking together like a roll of quarters.

Sickling is bad in ballet and worse in red blood cells. When the cells sickle, they can't do their job of oxygen delivery. Something that's supposed to look like a donut shouldn't shrivel into a crescent moon, because then the moons will get stuck in blood vessels and cause damage. Also, no oxygen.

Erythrocytic homeostasis: make donuts, not croissants; make just enough, not too many or not enough.


  1. Ever since my autoimmune disorder dx, my red blood cell count has been consistently above the normal range. My rheumatologist isn't too worried about it though.

    1. Not everyone's baseline is textbook--you & your doctors know you (& your labs) best :)


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