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Haemoglobin : Meaning, Structure, Function, Count, Level, Normal Range

We have all heard about the importance of haemoglobin(or hemoglobin) in our body and how a slight change in the total availability can wreck havoc on the bodily functions. Now, we understand that it is important but are we aware of the basics of the component.

Haemoglobin - Meaning, Structure, Function, Count, Level, Normal Range

Hemoglobin & its Importance

Well, let’s take a look at the much needed information about hemoglobin.

Meaning

Haemoglobin is a crucial protein molecule that is being carried inside the RBC or Red Blood Cells that help in circulation of oxygen being processed inside the lungs. Hemoglobin helps in disposal of oxygen to different parts of the body such as tissues and facilitates proper functioning of the body. The process is also applicable for deoxygenated blood which is carried back to our lungs.

Structure

When you take a peek at the structural composition of hemoglobin, you will find that this element is made from 4 protein molecules known as Globulin Chains that are interlinked together. In any normal adult blood, the haemoglobin is made from two chains of alpha-globulin with two of bet-globulin based chains. However, foetuses as well as infants lack the beta chains but have two alpha ones along with two of gamma chains. These gamma chains are then gradually replaced by the beta chains which lead to the formation of haemoglobin’s adult structure.

Function

The globulin chains making up the structure of haemoglobin contains a rather important compound named heme. The heme comes embedded with an atom of iron that is quite essential for the transportation of oxygen inside the body and removal of carbon dioxide. It is the iron present in hemoglobin that provides blood its red colour. Apart from carrying oxygen, hemoglobin is also responsible for providing the RBCs their shape. Normally, RBCs are round in shape with a hollow donut resembling look that comes without the hole. Any abnormality in the structure can hamper the oxygen carrying capacity of the RBCs which then hampers all the functions of the body.

Count

Haemoglobin count is a routine test performed when your doctor feels like your body might be lacking the normal required hemoglobin level. The test is normally termed as CBC or Complete Blood Count which is a common test that is ordered by a doctor as the very first way to determine any abnormalities. The test is performed with the use of an automated machine that separates the blood from the hemoglobin after being treated chemically. The haemoglobin released this way is then bound via a chemical process to cyanide which forms a light absorbing compound. The absorption of light is then measured with the help of the machine which directly states the amount of haemoglobin that can be found in the sample of blood obtained from any patient.

Level

Haemoglobin Level can either be low or high depending on a variety of factors. Low haemoglobin detected in the body states that the person has a hemoglobin level that is lower than the normal standards with regards to his/her age and gender. Say for example, a young male adult who is 19 year old can be diagnosed with low haemoglobin if he has a blood value below that of 13.6g/dl. Low hemoglobin level is also termed as anaemia and the person suffering from the same is termed as anaemic. Now, this could go completely opposite in case of people suffering from high levels of haemoglobin. Say for example, any 19 year young adult is detected with 177g/dl level of haemoglobin in his blood. He would be diagnosed with high haemoglobin count. However, hemoglobin going higher than normal is much rarer as compared to low hemoglobin count in the blood.

Normal Range

The value for a normal hemoglobin range varies according to factors such as age and sex. A chart has been set to evaluate the proper haemoglobin count as per age and sex for any given person. The widely accepted values for normal hemoglobin range have been provided down below.

  • Birth: 13.5-24.0 g/dl (Mean 16.5 g/dl)
  • Age less than 1 month: 10.0 -20.0 g/dl (mean 13.9 g/dl)
  • Age 1-2 months: 10.0 -18.0 g/dl (mean 11.2 g/dl)
  • Age 2-6 months: 9.5-14.0 g/dl (mean 12.6 g/dl)
  • Age 0.5 to 2 years: 10.5-13.5 g/dl (mean 12.0 g/dl)
  • Age 2 to 6 years: 11.5 -13.5 g/dl (mean 12.5 g/dl)
  • Age 6-12 years: 11.5 -15.5 g/dl (mean 13.5g/dl)
  • Female
    • Age 12-18 years: 12.0-16.0 g/dl (mean 14.0 g/dl)
    • Age more than 18 years: 12.1-15.1 g/dl (mean 14.0 g/dl)
  • Male
    • Age 12-18 years: 13.0-16.0 g/dl (mean 14.5 g/dl)
    • Age >18 years: 13.6-17.7 g/dl (mean 15.5 g/dl)

Lower levels of haemoglobin in the blood can lead to anaemia which tends to show symptoms such as fatigue, heart palpitations, uneasiness, loss of hairs, difficulty breathing with a feeling of shortness. Intake of iron-rich food supplements such as spinach, eggs, beans, artichokes, lean meats, as well as seafood can help you maintain a balanced hemoglobin level to have a healthy life.

Haemoglobin : Meaning, Structure, Function, Count, Level, Normal Range
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