The hemoglobin test is often used to check for anemia, usually along with a hematocrit or as part of a complete blood count (CBC). The test may be used to screen for a number of conditions and diseases that affect red blood cells (RBCs) and/or the amount of hemoglobin in blood. Hemoglobin is the iron-containing protein found in all red blood cells that enables RBCs to bind to oxygen in the lungs and carry it to tissues and organs throughout the body.
A hemoglobin test may be used to:
- Screen for, diagnose, and measure the severity of anemia
- Monitor the response to treatment of anemia or polycythemia
- Help make decisions about blood transfusions or other treatments if the anemia is severe
This test can indicate if there is a problem with red blood cell production, but it cannot determine the underlying cause.
The hemoglobin test may be ordered for a general health examination or when a person has signs and symptoms of a condition affecting red blood cells such as anemia or polycythemia.
Some signs and symptoms of anemia include:
- Weakness or fatigue
- Lack of energy
- Paleness (pallor)
- Shortness of breath
Some signs and symptoms of polycythemia include:
- Disturbed vision
- Enlarged spleen
This test may be performed several times or on a regular basis when someone has been diagnosed with ongoing bleeding problems or chronic anemias or polycythemia to determine the effectiveness of treatment. It may also be ordered routinely for people undergoing treatment for cancer that is known to affect the bone marrow.
For more information on this test, visit labtestsonline.org
No test preparation is needed.