Symptom: High red blood cell count

    A high red blood cell count indicates there are too many red blood cells circulating in your bloodstream. Red blood cells (RBCs), also called erythrocytes, are produced in your bone marrow and transport oxygen from your lungs to tissues throughout your body. A high red blood cell count is also called erythrocytosis (uh-rith-roh-sie-TOE-sis).

    The threshold for a high red blood cell count is somewhat different from one medical practice to another. A high red blood cell count is generally defined as more than 5.72 million red blood cells per microliter (mcL) of blood for men and 5.03 million per mcL for women. In children, the threshold for high red blood cell count varies with age and sex.

    High red blood cell count

    Specific causes of high red blood cell count may include:

    1. Anabolic steroids, which stimulate red blood cell production
    2. Carbon monoxide poisoning
    3. Congenital heart disease in adults
    4. COPD
    5. Dehydration
    6. EPO doping (injections of erythropoietin (EPO) to enhance athletic performance)
    7. Heart failure
    8. Hemoglobinopathies (conditions present at birth that impair the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells)
    9. Kidney cancer
    10. Kidney transplant
    11. Living at a high altitude, where there's less oxygen in the air
    12. Other types of heart disease
    13. Other types of lung disease
    14. Polycythemia vera
    15. Pulmonary fibrosis
    16. Sleep apnea
    17. Smoking, which may result in low blood oxygen levels

    Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.


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    Brain and Nerve Center an online symptom search and symptom directory. Here you can find what is the symptom High red blood cell count and what does it mean, you can also check what illnesses and diseases this symptom relates to.