High hemoglobin count

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High hemoglobin count

Question

What causes high hemoglobin?

Shannon
Nevada

Answer

High hemoglobin can have many causes. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from your lungs to your other body tissues.

A hemoglobin test measures the amount of hemoglobin in your blood. Normal values for hemoglobin are 13.8 to 17.2 grams per deciliter (gm/dL) for males and 12.1 to 15.1 gm/dL for females.

High hemoglobin is usually due to an increased number or abnormality of red blood cells. Causes include:

  • Living at a high altitude
  • Smoking
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Failure of the right side of your heart (cor pulmonale)
  • Scarring and thickening of the lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis)
  • A rare bone marrow disorder (polycythemia vera)
  • Dehydration, such as from severe diarrhea or excessive sweating
  • Kidney disease
  • Exposure to carbon monoxide
  • Anabolic steroid use

Treatment of high hemoglobin is directed at the underlying cause.

Last Updated: 09/01/2006
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