A low red blood cell count may be indicative of certain health problems, including anemia, blood loss, or malnutrition. People who have a low level of red blood cells may also be deficient in certain nutrients, particularly iron. A low count may be normal for some people, including pregnant women or young women who have just begun menstruating. Leukemia and most other types of cancers might also be a cause, but a person who has cancer will normally be experiencing other symptoms as well depending on how far the disease has progressed. Red blood cell (RBC) test results that are only slightly below the normal level are fairly common and are usually of no concern to most medical professionals.
The majority of people typically have no idea that their red blood cell counts are low until a complete blood count (CBC) test is performed. There are often no noticeable symptoms. If symptoms are experienced, they might include pale skin, fatigue, and a reduced energy level. Some people also notice that they seem to get short of breath frequently during the day. A person who is experiencing these symptoms may want to visit his healthcare provider to get a CBC test done to determine his blood cell count levels.
When medical professionals determine that their patients have abnormally low red blood cell counts, they usually try to understand the cause. A patient may be asked about his symptoms and how he feels every day as part of the diagnosis process. If a patient is not having any symptoms that might indicate serious health problems, medical professionals often make a diagnosis of anemia because it is the most common cause of this test result. Anemia is not always serious and can usually be remedied fairly easily.
A low red blood cell count, particularly if the count is low due to anemia, can normally be remedied with an increase in the amount of iron a person consumes. Healthcare professionals might also advise their anemic patients to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet overall containing the necessary vitamins and minerals. Over time, the count may begin to climb if these actions are taken regularly. A person who is anemic will probably have to visit a healthcare provider frequently for blood cell count tests until it has been determined that his levels have returned to the normal range.