What is MCH? What are the symptoms of low MCH?

When we apply to health institutions due to various health problems affecting our daily life, routine blood tests are usually requested after the examination. Among these blood tests, especially the test called complete blood count or hemogram stands out. A complete blood count is a valuable test in which some biochemical parameters are calculated with blood cells such as erythrocytes, leukocytes, and platelets in the blood. It is an indispensable blood test that is frequently used in the examination and examination of almost every health problem, especially hematological diseases. The specified parameters incomplete blood count are expressed in various abbreviations such as RDW, HGB, HCT. One of these parameters is the MCH value.

What is MCH?

MCH, which is the abbreviation of “mean corpuscular hemoglobin” or “mean cell hemoglobin”; It can be translated as the “mean erythrocyte hemoglobin” value. The cell we call erythrocyte refers to the red blood cells in the blood. Erythrocytes carry the oxygen we take from our lungs to the remaining tissues of the body, thanks to the iron-containing proteins called hemoglobin. Likewise, it helps to remove harmful gases such as carbon dioxide produced in the body from the lungs.

Here, the MCH value gives information about the amount of hemoglobin in erythrocyte cells. In this way, it provides valuable information such as whether there is sufficient hemoglobin in red blood cells and the total amount of hemoglobin in the body. Normally, not every red blood cell contains an equal amount of hemoglobin. Therefore, it is difficult to get an idea of ​​how much hemoglobin the cells contain when viewed under a microscope. A complete blood count test gives the MCH value, which is an average value, by measuring the hemoglobin density of individual cells in the blood.

What is MCH? What are the symptoms of low MCH?

What is the normal value ranges for MCH?

The MCH value in healthy individuals was calculated as 27 – 31 pg. This value basically depends on the size of red cells produced in the bone marrow, the number of red cells, and the total amount of iron in the body. It affects the MCH value due to all kinds of health problems that may affect them.

What does low MCH mean?

If an individual’s MCH value is lower than the specified reference range, it may be mentioned that there is a problem with the production of red blood cells or the amount of iron in the body. This means that low MCH red blood cells have a low amount of hemoglobin. Low hemoglobin causes red blood cells to become paler and smaller. In other words, when there is a decrease in hemoglobin production or amount in the body, the red blood cells shrink and fade. In the clinic, we observe this as low MCH in blood tests.

In line with this information, we can list the diseases that reduce the production and amount of hemoglobin as follows:

  • Iron deficiency anemia: When there is insufficient intake of iron into the body, hemoglobin production is interrupted, causing a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin in blood cells.
  • Blood losses: Sudden or chronic blood loss from the body causes low MCH as it causes hemoglobin and iron loss. It is especially relevant after surgical procedures, in case of trauma or in the presence of hidden bleeding foci.
  • Chronic disease anemia: During the course of various chronic diseases (kidney diseases, rheumatological disorders, some hormonal diseases, etc.), iron metabolism in the body is negatively affected, and blood cell production may be impaired and MCH low may occur.
  • Sideroblastic anemias: In some rare cases, sideroblastic anemia may occur due to disruptions in the metabolism of the iron molecule that must enter the structure of the hemoglobin protein in blood cells due to hereditary or acquired reasons. In these cases, the MCH value can be monitored low.
  • Genetic-based anemias: Especially in genetic hematological diseases such as Mediterranean anemia (thalassemia), the amount of hemoglobin may be low due to its defective structure.
  • Poisoning with substances such as lead and aluminum: MCH may decrease in poisoning with some substances because they cause deterioration in the production phase of hemoglobin.

What are the symptoms of low MCH?

Low MCH is usually detected incidentally during routine examinations. However, since it is often associated with iron deficiency anemia, the symptoms it may cause in the clinic are also seen in this context. We can list these symptoms as follows:

  • Pale skin
  • Weakness – tiredness
  • Palpitation
  • Unrest
  • Anorexia
  • Hair loss
  • Inattention and concentration difficulties in children
  • Crying and joining spells, especially in children
  • The tendency to break or deform the nails

What does the MCH height mean?

Just like low MCH, MCH values ​​above the reference value can indicate various health problems. In this case, the amount of hemoglobin is determined more intensely than it should be in the red blood cells. Usually, high MCH is encountered in cases where the size of red blood cells increases (macrocytic). We can list these ailments as follows:

  • Vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency: When there is a deficiency of various vitamins, the production stages of red blood cells are negatively affected, and larger, malformed cells are produced (megaloblastic anemia). In this case, MCH may be detected high.
  • Alcohol use: Chronic alcohol consumption can increase the MCH value by causing deterioration in the size and shape of blood cells in proportion to the increase in the amount of ethanol in the blood.
  • Genetic-based anemias such as hereditary spherocytosis: In some types of genetic anemia, as the structural proteins of blood cells are disrupted, their size increases, and the MCH value increases.
  • Hemoglobin diseases: High MCH values ​​can be measured in hemoglobin-induced hematological diseases such as sickle cell anemia, which is common especially in Mediterranean countries.
  • Some drug therapies: As a side effect of chemotherapy drugs such as hydroxyurea, drugs used in the treatment of epilepsy, and drugs used in the treatment of HIV infection, MCH elevation due to deterioration in blood cells can be detected.

What symptoms do you have with MCH height?

Like low MCH, high MCH values ​​are often asymptomatic. However, since MCH elevation is often associated with megaloblastic anemias that occur with vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency, the clinical symptoms it causes can be considered within this framework. We can summarize these symptoms as follows:

  • Weakness – tiredness
  • Pale skin
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Brittle nails
  • Palpitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased concentration and lack of attention
  • Forgetfulness

What to do with low or high MCH?

Value alone does not diagnose a disease. However, when evaluated together with other parameters obtained in the complete blood count assay, it provides very useful clinical information. In this sense, when anemia is detected in a person, the MCH value plays a critical role in planning the correct treatment by guiding the physician about what type of anemia is in question.

If iron deficiency anemia accompanying low MCH is detected, iron supplements are given to the body. In cases of low MCH caused by blood loss, the presence of a bleeding focus is investigated, and bleeding control is aimed at the detected foci. In case of a decrease in MCH value due to chronic disease anemia, treatment of the underlying disease is aimed.

In vitamin deficiencies associated with high MCH levels, while vitamin supplementation is initiated, plans are made to quit alcohol in cases associated with alcohol use. In other genetic-based diseases, a drug therapy-focused approach is determined.

If a measurement other than the reference value is detected in your parameters such as MCH in your complete blood count test, you can get information about your health status by applying to the nearest healthcare facility where a specialist physician is located. Wishing you healthy days.

The page content is for informational purposes only. Items containing information about therapeutic healthcare services are not included in the content of the page. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.

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