The MCH blood test is used to measure the mean corpuscular hemoglobin in the blood. The results are a calculation of the average amount of hemoglobin that the red blood cells are able to contain. This protein helps to transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. This blood test may be ordered on its own, but is commonly ordered as part of a complete blood count that evaluates the entire composition of a person’s blood.
When To Ask About the MCH Blood Test
Having inappropriate MCH levels can cause a wide variety of bothersome signs or symptoms that will not go away. The most common issues are unexplained fatigue, changes in pallor, and heart palpitations.
Because this test is often ordered as part of a complete blood count, any recurring infections, chronic inflammation, bruises that are slow to heal, and feelings of weakness may also be a good time to talk with a medical professional about the pros and cons of the MCH blood test.
Certain medications and therapies, such as chemotherapy, can affect MCH results. You may wish to discuss your current medication and any ongoing treatments, including natural remedies, that are currently being taken so a complete picture of health can be obtained.
What Do the MCH Blood Test Results Mean?
The MCH blood test is calculated based on hemoglobin value divided by the red blood cell count. This creates an average measurement of hemoglobin per red blood cell. Every laboratory has its own standard of “normal” for this measurement, but in generally terms you’ll find that a normal result falls between 26-33 pg [picograms].
For example: the online laboratory resource provided by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry offers a normal range for MCH results of 27.5-33.2 pg.
Any test results that are above 33 pg may be considered a high result. The most common reason for high MCH is the presence of macrocytic anemia. This is a disorder that causes the body to not produce enough red blood cells. The cells that are produced are larger than they should be as well, which is why they are able to carry more hemoglobin than normal. There are several causes of macrocytic anemia, from vitamin deficiencies to liver disease or an underactive thyroid.
If MCH results happen to fall below 26, then this is typically considered to be a low result. Blood loos, an iron deficiency, or microcytic anemia are the three most common causes of this test result. Microcytic anemia is the exact opposite of macrocytic anemia – the red blood cells are smaller than they should be, which means they cannot carry as much hemoglobin as they should.
Most abnormal MCH results will typically require follow-up testing to determine an exact diagnosis. Because nutritional deficiencies are a common cause of abnormal results, a complete interview and nutritional habit guide may be requested by a medical provider to look for possible lifestyle habits and choices that could be causing the condition.
Here’s What You Need To Know About the MCH Blood Test
If there is an underlying disease which is causing the abnormal MCH blood test results, then treating that condition is the only way to improve results. Otherwise there is no real way to change the size or shape of the red blood cells on your own. The only exception to this rule would be issues with MCH that are directly related to a vitamin or nutritional deficiency.
Abnormal results with this blood test will often result in additional testing. It is not unusual for a complete metabolic panel to be ordered if there are unexpected MCH results. Specific testing for suspected deficiencies to confirm a diagnosis may also be ordered.
Some conditions that may cause an abnormal MCH may resolve on their own. A recent blood transfusion can also affect results and it should be noted that normal results for children, infants, and newborns have different ranges than the adult range mentioned above. A laboratory may also have a specific normal ranges for different adult age demographics. Your medical provider will be able to discuss what your results mean for your local testing range.
For most people, the MCH blood test will provide a normal result when a sample is collected. If you’re concerned about the condition of your health, however, then use this guide to discuss the benefits of having this test ordered for you. It may be able to start putting together the puzzle to the diagnosis you need.