Dr. Eric C Santos, MD
Specialty: HematologyCancer & Hematology Centers of Western Michigan
145 Michigan St NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
- Blue Care Network of Michigan (BCN)
- Priority Health
- Saint Mary's Health Care
- Spectrum Health, Blodgett Campus
- Spectrum Health, Butterworth Campus
What is a red blood cell (RBC)?
American Red Cross answeredRed blood cells (RBCs) are perhaps the most recognizable component of whole blood. RBCs contain hemoglobin, a complex iron-containing protein that carries oxygen through the body and gives blood its red color. The percentage of blood volume composed of red blood cells is called the “hematocrit.” There are about one billion red blood cells in two to three drops of blood, and for every 600 red blood cells, there are about 40 platelets and one white cell. Manufactured in the bone marrow, RBCs are continuously produced and broken down. They live for about 120 days in the circulatory system. RBCs are prepared from whole blood by removing plasma, or the liquid portion of the blood, and they are used to treat anemia while minimizing an increase in blood volume. Improvements in cell preservation solutions over several decades have increased the shelf-life of RBCs from 21 to 42 days. RBCs may be treated and frozen for extended storage of up to 10 years.
Why is having excess sugar in our bloodstream dangerous?
Michael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answeredExcess blood sugar coalesces into a syrupy mixture that coats our organs and creates glasslike shards that can cut up the blood vessels and tissues of our body. The constant wounds of these sugar surges lead to chronic inflammation, which wastes our ability to defend ourselves with false alarms. As a result, we're prone to infections and arterial damage and less able to cope with common stresses we could normally fend off—like hypertension or high cholesterol, or even cigarette smoke.
Excess blood glucose also destroys the autoregulation system that controls your blood pressure.
This means that elevated blood sugar will get you frequent-flier miles with your local doctor. Frequent urination and fatigue are symptoms but not important problems like the other effects, such as arthritis, infections, kidney failure, accelerated arterial aging (that's heart attack, strokes, memory problems, and impotence), damage to the peripheral nerves, and the development of vision problems that can cause blindness.
What does your white blood cell count indicate?
Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answeredWhite blood cells are the major infection-fighting cells, but they are also involved in immune system responses to foreign bodies and tissues such as allergens and tumors.
The white blood cell count (WBC count) measures the total number of white blood cells present in the blood. A high WBC count is typically seen in response to a sudden onset of infection, trauma, or inflammation. A low WBC count can arise in bone marrow failure (as sometimes occurs with radiation therapy or chemotherapy), overwhelming infections, or the presence of a substance resulting in cell destruction (drugs, heavy metals, and poison). A low WBC count is also seen in diseases of the immune system or autoimmune disease, like systemic lupus erythematosus.
See all Blood Basics questions