MCHC that stands for Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration is the average count of hemoglobin concentration in each human red blood cell. Used as one of the red blood corpuscle indices, MCHC is used to diagnose the cause, severity, and type of anemia.
The MCHC count can be either high or low, wherein the former indicates that hemoglobin concentration in blood is higher than the total red blood cells, while the latter points out to lower hemoglobin in a red blood cell, meaning anemia.
Why an MCHC blood test required for patients?
Doctors recommend an MCHC blood test in patients to evaluate the actual composition of blood. The test is done for those generally suffering from symptoms of weakness or fatigue, bruising or bleeding, infections, and noticeable inflammation. However, this test is specifically done to detect anemia in a person.
The calculation of Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin (MCH) is done by dividing hemoglobin (Hgb) by Red Blood cells (RBC). The normal level of MCHC is between 33.4 to 35.5 grams per decilitre, but anything higher or lower than this should be referred to a doctor. MCHC blood test shows two types of results that have been discussed below:
It should be noted that the high or low MCHC blood test level usually requires further investigation with additional blood tests, as recommended by a doctor. Not necessarily, all high and low MCHC levels point out to severe health issues since the conditions can be best taken care of with the right medicines and following a proper diet chart. However, a doctor’s advice is required for treatment of common diseases like thyroid, blood disorders, anemia and nutritional deficiencies.
High MCHC blood test Level
When the MCHC blood test level shows over 34 pg, it indicates abnormally high results that specify Spherocytosis or macrocytic anemia. It is a kind of medical condition wherein the body fails to produce the sufficient number of red blood cells, which is called spherocytes. In blood, each red blood cell appears larger than the normal size indicating more content of hemoglobin than the usual level.
Low MCHC blood test level
When the MCHC blood test level is lower than 33.4 grams per decilitre, it is an abnormally low count, signifying lesser count of hemoglobin in each red blood cell. Every red blood cell appears abnormally smaller with lesser hemoglobin, thus indicating signs of anemia. Hypochromic microcytic anemia is another most common result of a lower MCHC blood test level, which suggests lesser red blood cells and decreased hemoglobin in each cell.
Symptoms of High MCHC Level
The actual cause of high MCHC blood test level is macrocytic anemia that has a direct impact on heart health. Therefore, it is important to diagnose the condition at an early stage, otherwise, it may turn worse if detected later. Besides, an early stage diagnosis enables doctors to decide the line of treatments as and when required. If you notice any of the following symptoms indicating high MCHC level, refer to a doctor immediately:
- Complications found in heart health
- Unexplained reasons for symptoms of weakness or fatigue
- Pallor of your skin
- Increased heart palpitations
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Increase in the pace of breathing
Symptoms of Low MCHC Level
A low MCHC level indicates anemia that happens when the concentration of hemoglobin is less in the blood. The normal level of hemoglobin count in men is 13.5 mg and in women, it is 12 mg. A lower MCHC reading than this normal count is considered to be anemic. When the count is little lesser than the normal level, it shows certain symptoms. However, a substantial drop in the hemoglobin count makes the symptoms more apparent. Have a look at the symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Fatigue or weakness for a prolonged time
- Cold feet and hands
- Pallor or dental gums and skin
- Difficulty and shortness of breathing
- Frequent signs of a headache and dizziness
- Irregular or increased heartbeat
- Loss of concentration
Causes of High MCHC Level
High MCHC level needs doctor’s attention. It is a medical condition wherein the concentration of hemoglobin is more than the red blood cells. The human blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Due to any medical condition or deficiency in the body, the red blood cells become destroyed and fragile, the hemoglobin count becomes more than the red blood cell count. The question is what causes the MCHC calculation become higher?
It is defined as a genetic condition that attacks the red blood cell membrane, making it vulnerable to destruction and very fragile. This hereditary medical disease is common in patients having a medical history of such a condition. In most cases, the disease is inherited from parents and therefore, the doctor first evaluates the patient’s medical history before suggesting treatments.
A Complete Blood Test (CBC) panel is required for detecting any further issues in your blood. It should be known that Hereditary Spherocytosis can vary from mild to a severe medical state. Symptoms like jaundice, gallstones, enlarged spleen and anemia are associated with the disease.
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a medical condition under which antibodies developed in the body attack the red blood cells. On the other hand, when the disease is triggered by no determinable cause, it is called idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia. The reasons for autoimmune hemolytic anemia are lymphoma or lupus, or it may also be caused due to medicines like penicillin.
A CBC panel test is required to diagnose the disease. Sometimes, other associated blood tests are done to find any other antibodies present in the red blood cells. The symptoms of Autoimmune Haemolytic Anaemic are paleness, anemia, chest pain, jaundice, weakness, abdominal discomfort, fainting, fever, and fatigue.
Severe burns greater than 10 percent of the human body also causes hemolytic anemia, but the condition is best treated with blood transfusion.
The other common causes for high MCHC level:
- Deficiency of folic acid
- Deficiency of Vitamin B12
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Infections triggered by specific infective agents
- Cancer treatment like chemotherapy
- Specific types of leukemia
- Hereditary spherocytosis
- Estrogen-containing medicines
Causes of Low MCHC Level
When the hemoglobin level is lower in red blood cells, it shows in low MCHC blood test results. Hemoglobin is defined as an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen to different parts of your body. Therefore, low hemoglobin indicates low oxygen level in the blood that shows signs of anemia and fatigue. Low MCHC blood test results are common during pregnancy or even during cancer. Let’s have a look at the factors that cause hemoglobin deficiency:
- Certain medical conditions that minimize the production of blood cells
- Conditions under which the red blood cells are quickly destroyed than at the rate they are produced.
- Sometimes, severe blood loss happens due to wounds, hemorrhoids, ulcers, cancer, heavy menstruation, and due to blood donation frequently.
The following types of Anaemia cause low MCHC level:
- Hemolytic Anaemia– This type of anemia is caused when the red blood cells get destroyed before its usual lifespan and the bone marrow is not able to produce such cells. The conditions of Hemolytic Anaemia are enlarged spleen, thalassemia, hemolysis, infection in the urinary tract, vasculitis, porphyria, etc.
- Iron Deficiency Anaemia– This medical condition is caused due to iron deficiency in your body. Lack of iron in diet or inability of your body to absorb sufficient iron cause Iron Deficiency Anaemia. It should be known that iron deficiency affects the production of RBCs, causing them to appear paler and smaller.
- Aplastic Anaemia– This is caused due to decreased level in white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
- Pernicious Anaemia– Deficiency of Vitamin B12 in your diet or inability of your body to absorb sufficient vitamin B12 causes Pernicious Anaemia.
The other reasons for low MCHC level include liver and kidney diseases, types of treatments taken for cancer, gastrointestinal tumors, defects in your bone marrow, inflammatory disorders, etc.
High and low MCHC levels are diagnosed through various blood tests. The levels are diagnosed as part of your complete blood count or CBC. This is a type of test that provides detailed information on platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. You may be recommended for a CBC for a thorough physical examination to find out whether you have any diseases. In some cases, CBC is required for monitoring any existing condition/disease and how it is responding to a treatment.
Treatment for High MCHC Level
If a person is diagnosed with high MCHC level, he/she is most likely suffering from autoimmune hemolytic. The condition is treated with high dose of Prednisone, but later the dose may be reduced if the doctor feels so. Severe cases of hemolytic are, however, treated by eliminating the spleen. Patients suffering from macrocytic anemia due to high MCHC level are given a different treatment. Doctors usually prescribe a reduced dosage of folate and vitamin B-12. Even those suffering from hereditary spherocytosis are recommended to increase these nutrients intake for treatment.
Including the following in the dietary chart also helps to bring high MCHC level to normalcy:
- Leafy and dark greens
- Cereals and fortified grains
- Red meat
- Nutritional yeast
In case of hereditary spherocytosis, doctors usually recommend treatment procedures like removing your gallbladder, blood transfusions and removing your spleen. Patients suffering from severe burns show high MCHC levels and so are treated with blood transfusions.
Treatment for Low MCHC Level
First, your doctor will try to find the exact underlying cause of low MCHC level in your blood. However, the most common reason for the lower level of MCHC is anemia caused due to iron deficiency, which is also known as iron deficiency anemia. These are the following treatments recommended:
- Increase intake of iron supplements
- Enhance iron in the diet and also include foods like spinach
- Increase intake of vitamin B-6 that enables in iron absorption
- The patient should avoid taking too much calcium since higher calcium intake prevents the body from absorbing iron
- Include lots of fibers in your daily diet
Frequently Asked Questions
What does MCHC blood test mean?
MCHC stands for Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration. It is a kind of blood test to determine if you have any disease. If the MCHC level is high above 35.5 grams per deciliter or lower than 33.4 grams per decilitre, then it indicates you are suffering from several forms of anemia or other medical conditions.
What is the normal MCHC level?
The normal range is from 33.4 to 35.5 g/dL or grams per decilitre in adults.
What does it mean when MCHC level is high?
High MCHC level means that the hemoglobin concentration is higher in the red blood cells. Usually, the RBCs become fragile and get destroyed under such conditions.
What are the causes for high MCHC level?
Hereditary spherocytosis, Autoimmune hemolytic anemia and severe burns.
What does it mean when MCHC level is low?
It means that the haemoglobin count is very low in the red blood cells. It usually means that each RBC is smaller than the normal size with a decreased level of haemoglobin.
What are the causes of low MCHC level?
Lack of iron in the body, low-grade blood loss, inability of red blood cells to grow fully, parasitic infections and cancer.
What are the treatments for high MCHC and low MCHC blood test levels?
High MCHC level treatments include corticosteroids, blood transfusions and splenectomy. Low MCHC levels, on the other hand, are treated with high intake of iron, iron supplements, vitamin B-6 intake, more fibres in diet, and so on.
How to prevent low MCHC level?
Including foods and fruits rich in vitamin B-6 helps to prevent low MCHC level. Take foods that have high iron like peas, red meat, spinach, seafood, beans, sweet potato, chicken breast, salmon, bananas, etc.
Can low MCHC level turn severe?
The complication arising from MCHC level is anemic hypoxia. The tissues in your body receive very low oxygen, as a result of which the tissues are unable to get rid of carbondioxide, which can be life threatening.