What does MCV Mean In a Blood Test?

MCV is an abbreviation standing for the mean corpuscular volume. It refers to the average volume of red blood cells in a being. MCV is affected either by increasing or decreasing due to the average size of a red blood cell. Take for instance, low MCV shows small red blood cell size, normal MCV shows normal red blood cell size and high MCV shows large red blood cell size.

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MCV – Normal Range

The MCV is measured directly by an automated hematology analyzer or can be arrived at by calculating from hematocrit and the red blood cell count. It makes part of the CBC blood test, which measures the number and the different cells found in one’s blood.The normal range of mean corpuscular volume lies between 80 to 100.


High MCV – Causes

This is a condition where the number of red blood cells are more than they should be due to the red blood cell being larger in size. Finding out that one has macrocytosis could mean a few different things that are bound to be very important to one’s health. One of the most obvious things that physicians are likely to diagnose, especially in the case where one experiences fatigue is vitamin B12 deficiency. This is caused by vitamin B12 malabsorption, gastrointestinal problems, excessive alcohol intake, and poor diet just to mention a few. For vitamin B12 deficiency to affect your blood cells count, one needs to have been having it for a while like two years or so.

Liver disease is also one of the reasons an individual’s MCV levels can be high. The liver is the body organ tasked with removing toxic chemical substances, making important chemicals for the body, and other key roles. Diseases that harm the liver like cirrhosis can cause high levels of MCV as they drastically affect the functioning of the liver. This is mainly attributed to by excessive consumption of alcohol. Reticulocytosis is another reason why one’s MCV is high. It is a condition where there is an increase in the count of reticulocytes in the blood.

Hypothyroidism can also cause the MCV levels to be high. It is a condition where the thyroid gland is inactive. The gland is located in front of the neck and produces a natural chemical in the form of hormones that affect almost every cell in the body and many functions such as energy levels and disease fighting ability. Myxedema a more severe form of hypothyroidism can also cause high levels of MCV.

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Low MCV – Causes

This is a condition that occurs when the MCV blood test number is lower than normal. This in turn means that the average volume of the red blood cells is smaller as compared to the normal volume. It commonly occurs in blood tests, especially in menstruating women.

It is something that shouldn’t be overlooked as one of the most dangerous reasons that microcytosis occurs is due to a sub-clinically slowly bleeding ulcer or some other bleeding problems. Most occurrences of these bleeding issues are in the digestive tract and could be very dangerous. Gluten sensitivity can also result to low MCV. It occurs in about every 1 in 100 people, which is quite frequent. Gluten sensitivity is rarely diagnosed as it doesn’t portray any classic symptoms of gluten intolerance and therefore one should go testing for gluten sensitivity.

Anemia can also cause low MCV levels. It is a condition where there are abnormally low amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is a component of the red blood cell that assists in carrying oxygen to the cells in the body. Hemoglobinopathy, a group of disorders mainly associated with changes in the structure of hemoglobin also causes low MCV levels. The most common of anemia that is known to have an effect in producing low levels of MCV is anemia due to iron deficiency.

In microcytism, the red blood cells are hypochromic , this is to say that the red blood cells appear paler than usual. Anemia of chronic disease can also be a reason why there is presence of low MCV levels. It is seen in chronic infection, chronic immune activation and in malignancy. The proper and most effective treatment for this is to successfully treat the chronic ailment. Anemia of chronic disease only results to low levels of MCV if it is very serious and left untreated.

There are many other causative factors to low MCV levels and they include lead poisoning, long lasting kidney failure, and low intake of vitaminB6.


Seek medical assistance

It is important to take action once you notice that your MCV levels are abnormal either too high or too low. A medical expert should help you figure out the cause for the variation in your MCV levels and help you get it back to normal. As the saying goes, health is wealth, so be sure to stay healthy by checking your MCV levels.


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