What is Hemoglobin?

Hemoglobin is the main component of red blood cells.

Hemoglobin (abbreviation: Hb) is a red substance made of iron and protein in the blood that carries oxygen to the cells in the body from the lungs.

Path of Red Blood Cells. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are transported in the blood: from the lungs to the organs and again to the lungs.

Hemoglobin also carries carbon dioxide away from the cells to the lungs, which is then exhaled from the body. Carbon dioxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is present in small amounts in the air and is produced as a result of metabolism in the body. Metabolism is the chemical actions in cells that release energy from nutrients or use energy to create other substances.

Hemoglobin within red blood cell. Erythrocyte. Hemoglobin.  Info
Hemoglobin within red blood cell.

Measured in grams per deciliter (g/dL), normal ranges for hemoglobin counts differ depending on an individual’s age and sex. It’s important to note that hemoglobin counts of endurance athletes can be as much as 30% higher than that of the average adult, which is considered normal.

Like other blood values, slightly high or low levels of hemoglobin may be normal for some people. Still, if you are falling too far out of the normal range, your doctor will most likely order more comprehensive testing to determine the cause.

Elevated hemoglobin by itself is not considered a disorder, but rather a symptom of a medical condition. Therefore, treatment must target the underlying cause.

Normal Ranges for Hemoglobin in g/dL:

  • Men: 14 to 18
  • Women: 12 to 16
  • Children to up 18 years of age: 11 to 13
  • Critical Range: <5 or >20

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