There are various types of hemoglobin found in your bloodstream. Before you know the various types, you need to first understand what hemoglobin electrophoresis test is. Your doctor will require you to have this test if you are suspected of suffering from a specific disorder (which you will learn later) or in case you have a newborn baby as it is a mandatory test for newborns.
What Is Hemoglobin Electrophoresis Test?
If you want to determine and measure the various types of hemoglobin in your bloodstream, then you need to have a hemoglobin electrophoresis test. Red blood cells contain a protein that is tasked to transport oxygen to your organs and tissues. This protein is hemoglobin.
Your hemoglobin may be formed incorrectly due to genetic mutations. If this happens, then the amount of oxygen that will reach your organs and tissues will be decreased. There are various types of hemoglobin in your bloodstream, including Hemoglobin A, C, D, E, F, M, and S.
[Also Read: What Is Normal Blood Oxygen Levels]
Who Should Undergo this Test?
It is mandatory to have this test for newborns. But this test is also applicable to adults due to the following reasons:
- Your race makes you at a higher risk of blood disorders
- You are experiencing symptoms of a blood disorder
- Your child is suffering from a blood disorder
- You have a blood transfusion due to sickle cell disease. This is to determine whether or not you obtained enough hemoglobin from the transfusion.
The hemoglobin electrophoresis test will help you determine whether or not you have a blood disorder, as well as the kind of blood disorder you have. This test is commonly done along with other blood tests.
This will also enable your doctor to know whether or not you have normal hemoglobin. You have normal hemoglobin if your blood carries sufficient oxygen for your organs and tissues, while you have abnormal hemoglobin if there is less oxygen carried to the same parts.
Normal Levels of Hemoglobin Types in Infants and Adults
The amount of hemoglobin in your bloodstream is measured through complete blood count. The hemoglobin electrophoresis test measures the percentage of the various types of hemoglobin in your bloodstream. It is worth noting that infants and adults have different normal levels of hemoglobin.
[Also Read: Is Fasting Required For Complete Blood Count Test]
The hemoglobin molecules found in fetuses and infants are usually made of two gamma chains and two alpha chains. As they grow, these gamma chains are replaced by beta chains, which are composed of the adult hemoglobin molecules. The hemoglobin that is common in fetuses is Hemoglobin F. It makes up most of the hemoglobin in newborn babies. But this type of hemoglobin declines as your baby gets a year older. Hemoglobin F usually consists of 60 to 80 percent of the hemoglobin found in newborns. From the time the baby turns six months, there is 8 percent of hemoglobin F. It becomes 1 to 2 percent only from the time the baby turns at least one year of age.
The hemoglobin molecules found in adults are usually made of two beta-globulin chains and two alpha-globulin chains. Adults usually have 95 to 98 percent of hemoglobin A, 2 to 3 percent of hemoglobin A2, and 1 to 2 percent hemoglobin F. Hemoglobin S and C are not common for adults.
If you have abnormal hemoglobin, your doctor will most likely recommend you to take the electrophoresis test. This will allow you to know if you are suffering from a certain disorder or to screen you for genetic conditions. Sometimes, this test is just for a routine checkup. Furthermore, if you are found to be suffering from a disorder, this will allow you to monitor treatment.
This test doesn’t require you to prepare a lot. All you need to do is to present yourself in the lab where the healthcare provider will take blood either from your hand or arm. Your blood sample will then be compared to other healthy samples to identify the types of hemoglobin present in your bloodstream.
If the result shows that you have abnormal hemoglobin levels, your doctor will most likely ask for follow-up tests. This test will usually manifest if you have hemoglobin C disease, rare hemoglobinopathy, sickle cell anemia, or thalassemia.
[Also Read: Medication List For Sickle Cell Anemia]
If you are in doubt whether or not you are suffering from a blood disorder, maybe because you are experiencing symptoms of such or maybe you are at a higher risk of the same, then it is important to understand what hemoglobin electrophoresis test is. In that way, you will be able to determine and measure the various types of hemoglobin in your bloodstream, which will eventually help you to know whether or not you have a blood disorder, as well as the kind of blood disorder you have.
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.