Understanding your blood test results

Happy New Year to all!!

Having gained access to all my blood test results via my GP, I realised there was an enormous gap in my knowledge about all the blood test terms.

A lot of people seem to be au fait with it all but maybe others don’t really have much of a clue, like me.

I posted this on MPN Voice as well and was really grateful to discover I’m not the only Dummy in the UK!

I hope some find this helpful. The ranges given can vary from clinic to clinic and country to country, so you may need to allow a little here and there.


Haemoglobin concentration

(range 115 - 150)

Is used clinically to determine the presence of anemia, which is

functionally defined as insufficient red blood cell (RBC) mass to adequately

deliver oxygen to peripheral tissues.

Total white blood count (range 4 - 11)

A white blood count measures the number of white cells in your blood.

White blood cells are part of the immune system. They help your body fight off

infections and other diseases. When you get sick, your body makes more

white blood cells to fight the bacteria, viruses, or other foreign substances

causing your illness

Platelet count - observation

(range 150 - 400)

A platelet count is a lab test to measure how many platelets you have in

your blood. Platelets are parts of the blood that helps the blood clot. They

are smaller than red or white blood cells.

Red blood cell count

( range 3.8 - 4.8)

A red blood cell (RBC) count is a blood test that tells you how many red

blood cells you have. Red blood cells contain a substance called

haemoglobin, which transports oxygen around the body.

Haematocrit (range 0.37 - 0.47)

A haematocrit (he-MAT-uh-krit) test measures the proportion of red blood

cells in your blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body.

Having too few or too many red blood cells can be a sign of certain diseases.

The haematocrit test, also known as a packed-cell volume (PCV) test, is a

simple blood test.

Mean cell volume

(range woman 80 -100)

MCV stands for mean corpuscular volume. There are three main types of

corpuscles (blood cells) in your blood–red blood cells, white blood cells, and

platelets. An MCV blood test measures the average size of your red blood

cells, also known as erythrocytes.

An average MCV score is between 80 and 95. If the MCV goes up to an

extreme of 125, it may indicate vitamin B12, folate deficiencies, or cold

agglutinin disease. A higher MCV value indicates that the red blood cells

are larger than the average size.The MCV will be lower than normal when red blood cells are too small. This

condition is called microcytic anemia. Microcytic anemia may be caused by:

iron deficiency, which can be caused by poor dietary intake of iron, menstrual

bleeding, or gastrointestinal bleeding.

Mean cell haemoglobin level (XE2pb)

(range 27 - 33)

You might hear your doctor talk about MCH levels when they explain the

results of certain blood tests. MCH is short for "mean corpuscular

hemoglobin." It’s the average amount in each of your red blood cells of a

protein called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen around your body.

High MCH scores are commonly a sign of macrocytic anemia. This condition

occurs when the blood cells are too big, which can be a result of not having

enough vitamin B12 or folic acid in the body.

A low mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) shows

that someone’s red blood cells do not have enough hemoglobin.

Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein, and a lack of it may indicate anemia.

Mean cell haemoglobin concentration

(range 27 - 31)

Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) is a lab value found on

a complete blood count (CBC) that describes the average concentration of

hemoglobin in a given volume of red blood cells. Hemoglobin is what

gives red blood cells their color and that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen

to tissues within your body.

Neutrophil count

(range 1500 - 8000)

A neutrophil count is checked as part of a complete blood count (CBC).

Levels of neutrophils less than 2500 are referred to as neutropenia, though

the degree of decrease is important. An ANC less than 1000 is most serious,

and can seriously predispose someone to infections.

Neutropenia is a blood condition characterized by low levels of neutrophils,

which are white blood cells that protect your body from infections. Without

enough neutrophils, your body can’t fight off bacteria. Having neutropenia

increases your risk for many types of infection.Having a high percentage of neutrophils in your blood is called neutrophilia.

This is a sign that your body has an infection. Neutrophilia can point to a

number of underlying conditions and factors, including: infection, most likely


Lymphocyte count

(range 1000 - 4800]

Doctors refer to a blood test that counts how many lymphocytes are in the

blood as a B and T cell screen. This test measures the levels of the main

types of white blood cells in the body. Lymphocyte count is one part of a

complete blood count (CBC), which is a larger whole blood test.

High lymphocyte blood levels indicate your body is dealing with an infection

or other inflammatory condition. Most often, a temporarily high lymphocyte

count is a normal effect of your body’s immune system working. Sometimes,

lymphocyte levels are elevated because of a serious condition, like leukemia.

Lymphocytopenia, also referred to as lymphopenia, occurs when your

lymphocyte count in your bloodstream is lower than normal. Severe or chronic

low counts can indicate a possible infection or other signficant illness and

should be investigated by your doctor. Lymphocytes are a kind of white blood


Monocyte count

(range 200 - 800)

Absolute monocytes are a measurement of a particular type of white

blood cell. Monocytes are helpful at fighting infections and diseases, such as

cancer. Getting your absolute monocyte levels checked as part of a routine

blood test is one way to monitor the health of your immune system and your


When your monocyte level is high — known as monocytosis — it means

your body is fighting something. Some conditions that can cause an increase

in the monocytes in your blood are: viral infections, such as infectious

mononucleosis, mumps, and measles. parasitic infections

A low number of monocytes (monocytopenia) can be caused by anything

that decreases the overall white blood cell count, such as bloodstream

infection, chemotherapy, or a bone marrow disorder. It’s important to speak

with your doctor about what this means and what recommendations he has

for you based on your results

Eosinophil count

(range less than 500)

An absolute eosinophil count is a blood test that measures the number of

one type of white blood cells called eosinophils. Eosinophils become

active when you have certain allergic diseases, infections, and other medical

conditions.Eosinophilia (e-o-sin-o-FILL-e-uh) is a higher than normal level of eosinophils.

Eosinophils are a type of disease-fighting white blood cell. This condition most

often indicates a parasitic infection, an allergic reaction or cancer.

An abnormally low eosinophil count can be the result of intoxication from

alcohol or excessive production of cortisol, like in Cushing’s disease.

Cortisol is a hormone naturally produced by the body. Low eosinophil counts

may also be due to the time of day.

Basophil count

(range 0 - 0.1)

Normally, basophils make up less than 1 percent of your circulating white

blood cells. A healthy range is 0 to 3 basophils in each microliter of blood. A

low basophil level is called basopenia. It can be caused by infections, severe

allergies, or an overactive thyroid gland.

If your basophil level is low, it may be due to a severe allergic reaction. If

you develop an infection, it may take longer to heal. In some cases, having

too many basophils can result from certain blood cancers. Your doctor can

determine whether your white blood cell count falls within an acceptable range.

An abnormally high basophil level is called basophilia. It can be a sign of

chronic inflammation in your body. Or it can mean that a condition is causing

too many white blood cells to be produced in your bone marrow. Your doctor

can check your levels of basophils by doing a blood test.

Nucleated red blood cell count (range 0)

Nucleated RBC are red blood cells with a nucleus. The nucleus, which

contains DNA, should eject naturally as the cell develops in the bone marrow.

When the nucleus has dissolved, the cell becomes more flexible. It will

squeeze out of portholes in the bone marrow and enter the bloodstream.

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (range 0 - 15)

Sed rate, or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), is a blood test that can

reveal inflammatory activity in your body. A sed rate test isn’t a stand-

alone diagnostic tool, but it can help your doctor diagnose or monitor the

progress of an inflammatory disease.

A faster-than-normal rate may indicate inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is part of your immune response system. It can be a reaction to

an infection or injury. Inflammation may also be a sign of a chronic disease,

an immune disorder, or other medical condition.

Sometimes the ESR can be slower than normal. A slow

ESR may indicate a

blood disorder, such as:


Sickle cell anemia

Leukocytosis, an abnormal increase in white blood cells

If your results are not in the normal range, it doesn’t necessarily mean you

have a medical condition that requires treatment. A moderate ESR may

indicate pregnancy, menstruation, or anemia, rather than an inflammatory

disease. Certain medicines and supplements can also affect your results.

These include oral contraceptives, aspirin, cortisone, and vitamin A. Be sure

to tell your health care provider about any drugs or supplements you are


Serum alanine aminotransferase level

(range 0 - 35)

An alanine transaminase (ALT) blood test measures the amount of ALT in

your blood. ALT levels in your blood can increase when your liver is

damaged, so healthcare providers often use an ALT blood test to help assess

the health of your liver.

High levels of ALT may indicate liver damage from hepatitis, infection,

cirrhosis, liver cancer, or other liver diseases. Other factors, including

medicines, can affect your results. Be sure to tell your health care provider

about all the prescription and over-the counter medicines you are taking

Serum alkaline phosphatase level

(range 30 - 100)

An alkaline phosphatase (ALP) test measures the amount of ALP in your

blood. ALP is an enzyme found throughout the body, but it is mostly found in

the liver, bones, kidneys, and digestive system. When the liver is damaged,

ALP may leak into the bloodstream.

Serum total bilirubin level

(range 0 - 17)

This test measures the amount of a substance called bilirubin. This test is

used to find out how well your liver is working. It is often part of a panel of

tests that measure liver function. A small amount of bilirubin in your blood is

normal, but a high level may be a sign of liver disease.

Serum albumin level

(range 35-48)

The serum albumin test looks at the levels of albumin in a person’s blood.

If the results indicate an abnormal amount of albumin, it may suggest a

problem with the liver or kidneys. It may also indicate that a person has a

nutrient deficiency. Albumin is one of the most abundant proteins found in the

blood.Serum sodium level

(range 132 - 146)

A sodium blood test is a routine test that allows your doctor to see how

much sodium is in your blood. It’s also called a serum sodium test. Sodium

is an essential mineral to your body. It’s also referred to as Na+.

Serum potassium level

(range 3.5 - 5)

Potassium balances the effects of sodium and helps keep fluid levels within a

certain range. Your body should maintain a specific amount of potassium in

the blood, ranging from 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Serum urea level

(range 2.5 - 6.7)

The blood urea nitrogen test, which is also called a BUN or serum BUN

test, measures how much of the waste product you have in your blood. If

your levels are off the normal range, this could mean that either your kidneys

or your liver may not be working properly.

Serum creatinine level

(range 45 - 84)

Creatinine levels in the blood can provide your doctor with information about

how well your kidneys are working…

GFR calculated abbreviated MDRD

(range varies with age)

Your kidneys filter your blood by removing waste and extra water to make

urine. The kidney’s filtration rate, called the glomerular filtration rate (GFR),

shows how well the kidneys are filtering.

Acute kidney injury warning stage

(range < 1)

From April of this year primary care will start receiving Acute Kidney


(AKI) warning stage test results which are generated when a significant

change in creatinine concentration is measured.

Serum C reactive protein level

(range 0 - 9]

A c-reactive protein test measures the level of c-reactive protein (CRP) in your

blood. CRP is a protein made by your liver. It’s sent into your bloodstream in

response to inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your

tissues if you’ve been injured or have an infection

Serum calcium level

(range 2.2 - 2.6)

Serum calcium is a blood test to measure the amount of calcium in the

blood. Serum calcium is usually measured to screen for or monitor bonediseases or calcium-regulation disorders (diseases of the parathyroid gland or


Serum adjusted calcium concentration

(range [2.2 - 2.6)

A calcium test measures the level of calcium in your blood.

Abnormal calcium levels may indicate bone disease or

other medical conditions


All I can say is ‘Wow’ @Quercus I am all for something I can understand, thank you, look after yourself

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That’s a very comprehensive list !

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Goodness @Quercus - thank you for posting this! I’ve had Myeloma for nearly ten years and I’ve never seen such a comprehensive and detailed explanation of what all the blood results mean.


Thanks @Quercus - this is really useful.


Fantastic, very helpful, thank you!


Hi @nicegal. How have you been keeping the last couple of years?

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Thanks @quercus
I know my trees, so assume it’s reliable! Last time I saw a roundup like this was just after my diagnosis in 1995 (pre-Google [at least, in my experience], but AltaVista was just as good at supporting a doom-scrolling habit :wink:)

I underline (as if my endorsement counted for anything) the use of “range”; I saw a stern note somewhere (John’s Hopkins?) saying this was not a “norm”. There were many normal values occurring within that range.

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Wow what a full list really helpful in breaking down these terms. thanks


Hi I have MGUS IGG Kappa. My last FBC I had low Neutrophil count. And it has been declining over the last few blood tests. Although flagged as low in the results, the GP did not mention it. I saw it as I analyse my lab blood results each time incase anything changes.
Lab Range is 1.7 to 7.5 (10*9/L) my last 3 results were 2.2, 1.9 and latest 1.6. Is this something I should flag to my GP or haematologist. I am felling exhausted a lot and have lots of aches and pains and feeling like something not right but no major infections and so far the GP has not been able to find anything specific after a load of testing.


Hi @Balders999 I believe if anything is concerning you then it is worth flagging up to your GP or Haematologist and also stress your exhaustion, and aches and pains, their severity and affect on your life.
When I was first diagnosed someone said that I should take responsibility for my condition, many years later I understand what they meant.
Please let us know how you get on and look after yourself.

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Thank you.
I have already been to the GP several times over the last year or so. The initial visit lead to haematology referral who identified my MGUS but as to the rest of the symptoms no further progress or answers. I will try again in the New Year with the GP.


Good morning @Balders999 ,good to hear how you are getting on.
Myeloma.org.uk/mgus diary
Is very useful to keep track of your test results.
They also have a patient guide for GPs
I quoted from it last visit and so my Dr agreed to e mail the Haematologist ,but it was hard work getting there.

Myeloma and MGUS a guide for GPs

You can download or ask for copies by calling 0800 980 3332

The Nurse support line can also advise on your test results.

I have IgG kappa too with an abnormal free Kappa light chain.
and raised Kappa:Lambda Ratio:

But in the guidance from the Haematologist this hasnt reached the level they will investigate so waiting for next test results.

My GP wasnt bothered either when I had low results they also look at the whole picture of results.

I am sorry that you have symptoms
As @Erica says to flag these up to your GP. Write a list and ask what could be the cause of your low Neutrophil count.

Keep on trying and perhaps give the Myeloma support line or BCUK a call .
Good Luck with it all

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Hi @Balders999, thank you for your post, and I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been going through what sounds like a worrying time for you. Any abnormal test results can feel very anxiety-provoking, and it must be awful to be feeling exhausted and unwell too. I can see that @Bannanacake has shared some really useful resources here, and I do agree that anything that is causing you concern is worth flagging with your team. Please do give us a call if we can support you at all (0808 2080 888)- sometimes talking things through ahead of speaking with your team can be helpful. I am here until 1pm today and our Nurse Advisors will be back in tomorrow. We are here for you.

Best wishes,


Thanks for posting this. Clearest explanation I’ve ever seen. My hospital displays the results on their app every time and highlights those of importance, but I’ll now be able to get a better understanding.


How are you doing @Radius?

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Hi @Balders999 I just wonders what has been going on for you?
Look after yourself

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Thank you @Erica for asking. I have my 6 monthly blood test tomorrow so will see what my results show in about a week or so and then go from there.

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