Perhaps your doctor has ordered an MCV blood test in order to focus on your MCV levels. But do you know what MCV stands for? And what the results of this test even mean? With the help of today’s article, you can find out what your MCV levels mean and if it can explain the symptoms that you have been struggling with lately.
What Does MCV Mean In A Blood Test?
MCV stands for mean corpuscular volume, which represents the average size of the red blood cells in a specimen. If the red blood cells are either too small or too large, that can be a sign of a number of possible health issues. But the MCV levels are often influenced by a number of factors such as diet, menstrual cycle, lifestyle, etc. This means that lower or higher MCV levels than usual do not necessarily mean that you have an underlying health issue.
An MCV blood test is done in order to determine the average size of the red blood cells in the blood, and it is often a part of the regular, complete blood test (CBC) that measures the different components of the blood.
When Is The Test Ordered?
An MCV blood test is usually ordered if the individual is complaining of fatigue, unusual bleeding, unexplained bruising, and cold hands and/or feet.
How Is The Test Performed?
The MCV blood test is like any ordinary blood test. It involves taking a sample of your blood using a sterile needle that is inserted into a vein in your arm. It is not linked to any side-effects, and it does not have any potential risks. You will have to inform the doctor about any prescription and non-prescription medications as well as any dietary supplements that you may have been taking as they can influence the results of the serum mcv test.
MCV Blood Test Normal Range
The MCV levels are measured in femtoliters per cell. The MCV normal range is between 80-96 fL/red blood cells in adults.
The MCV can be within the normal range, and you can still struggle with being anemic if any of the other characteristics of the red blood cells are abnormal – a condition known as normocytic anemia. In normocytic anemia, the red blood cells are usually normal in size, and there is enough hemoglobin. However, there are too few of them. A chronic disease, cancer, and a significant blood loss can cause normocytic anemia.
[Also Read: Blood Tests To Detect Cancer]
MCV Blood Test High – Causes And Symptoms
The MCV is higher than usual when your red blood cells are larger than normal, which is known as macrocytic anemia.
The causes of high MCV values can be linked to;
- Liver disease
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
- Folate deficiency, etc.
There are many other possible causes of high MCV levels. The highest MCV levels are, however, caused by Vitamin B-12 or folate deficiency.
The common symptoms of high MCV include;
- Loss of appetite
- Memory loss
- Poor concentration, etc.
MCV Blood Test Low – Causes And Symptoms
The MCV is lower than normal when the red blood cells’ size is smaller than normal, a condition known as microcytic anemia.
The microcytic anemia can be caused by;
- Iron deficiency
- A number of chronic diseases, thalassemia, etc.
These health issues are preventing your body from producing the needed amounts of hemoglobin, thus causes low MCV values, microcytic anemia, and its symptoms.
The most common symptoms of low MCV include;
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
How To Increase MCV In Blood?
Microcytic anemia is usually treated with the use of iron and Vitamin C supplements. Your doctor will recommend intaking more iron and Vitamin C through your diet as well, which will involve introducing a few dietary changes. The iron will help increase the iron levels in the blood, whereas Vitamin C will improve its absorption. The most severe cases of microcytic anemia involve a blood transfusion or donor red blood cells.
Determining your MCV levels in the blood is one of the most effective ways to diagnose whether or not you are dealing with anemia of any kind. An MCV blood test will allow your doctor to give you an explanation of why have you been feeling tired and dizzy without any specific reason or why are there more and more unexplained bruises on your body. An MCV blood test takes only a few moments, and the information about your health that it offers is priceless.
Doctor, author and fitness enthusiast, Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a surgery resident with a passion for helping people live a happy healthy life. He is the author of numerous health-related books and contributor to several medicine, health and wellbeing websites.