White Blood Cells, Red Blood Cells and Platelets

Your blood is made up of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets suspended in blood plasma. Too many or too few of any of these components can lead to several health problems.

Many factors can cause abnormal blood cell counts. Your blood cell counts often give your doctor important information about the state of your health and provide clues to underlying conditions you may not have been aware of.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

The signs of an abnormal blood count depend on which components of your blood have abnormal levels.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blood clots
  • Bruises and bleeding
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Fever
  • Interrupted sleep
  • Itchy skin
  • Joint pain
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling
  • Unexplained weight loss

Testing to diagnosis abnormal blood cell counts may include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) – the size and number of red and white blood cells and platelets
  • Flow cytometry – a laboratory technique that uses a fluorescent substance to stain your blood cells and evaluate their size, shape and percentage
  • Molecular testing – examines genes, proteins and other molecules in your blood

Abnormal blood cell counts are often very treatable. In rare cases, they may indicate the presence of cancer or an immune disorder.

Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Our multidisciplinary team of hematology specialists has advanced expertise in diagnosing, treating and managing blood disorders. Our medical team is consistently recognized nationally through the Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors awards.

Our specialists also participate in worldwide conferences and speaking engagements in countries including India, Korea, Germany and Japan, among others.

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