Hemoglobin is a protein formed from two chains of α amino acids and two chains of β that are connected to each other.
It is a protein found in red blood cells.
Its main functions are:
- oxygen transport from the lungs to the tissues,
- CO2transport from tissues to lungs.
In addition, it acts as a buffer system in the blood, i.e. it keeps the pH constant (within certain limits).
Increased hemoglobin can be a symptom of various diseases.
A haemoglobin level above 17.2 g/dl for men and 15.1 g/dl for women is considered too high.
- In children, hemoglobin levels depend on age and gender (male or female).
- In pregnant women, hemoglobin levels are lowered.
Normal haemoglobin levels
The level of hemoglobin in the blood depends on age.
Value category g/dl
Infants with 1 week 15-20
Infants with 1 month 11-15
Pregnant women 11-12
Older men and adults > 50
adult females > 50
Glycosylated hemoglobin (also known as hemoglobin A1c or glycated hemoglobin) is an important test for determining the severity of diabetes.
Blood glucose irreversibly binds to hemoglobin and forms hemoglobin A1c.
The value of this blood protein is related to the percentage of glucose.
This compound is maintained over the entire lifetime of the red blood cells, in the maximum case over 110 to 120 days.
If the sugar levels have been elevated in recent weeks, the value of hemoglobin A1c is increased.
Hemoglobin A1c is the average value of blood sugar for the period of six to twelve weeks. This number, together with the classic measured value of glucose, forms the basis for appropriate therapy.
In people who do not have diabetes, the normal level of HbA1c is between 4 and 6%.
It is important that the value of glycated haemoglobin is below 7%.
Increased HbA1c increases the risk of complications associated with diabetes.
If the glycated hemoglobin is high, it is necessary to follow a diet rich in carbohydrates, because the digestion of these foods leads to an increase in blood sugar levels.
Above all, it is necessary to reduce:
- cereal products (bread, pasta, rice, etc.),
Fruit contains a lot of fiber and therefore does not raise blood sugar significantly.
Fetal hemoglobin is located in the fetus.
The main feature is the ability to transport more oxygen because there is a higher affinity for this molecule.
It is found only in pregnant women, after childbirth it is converted back to normal hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin in the urine
There should be no hemoglobin in the urine. However, if the patient suffers from certain diseases, traces of them can be found.
The red blood cells live about 4 months, after which they are blocked and decomposed:
- In the spleen,
- In the bone marrow,
- In the liver.
However, when hemolysis (decomposition) of red blood cells occurs in the circulatory system, the individual components are released into the bloodstream.
Free hemoglobin in the blood binds to haptoglobin (a protein).
If the content of hemoglobin in the blood exceeds the capacity for the recovery of haptoglobin, then the hemoglobin enters the urine.
Conditions in which hemoglobin is found in the urine include:
- acute glomerulonephritis,
- Extensive burns,
- kidney tumor,
- Sickle-cell anaemia
- paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (dark urine in the morning, which becomes clear again during the day),
- haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS),
- transfusion reaction (the immune system attacks the injected red blood cells),
- thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP),
- Tuberculosis of the urinary tract, etc.
Causes of increased hemoglobin
A value of 17.2 g/dl may indicate a physiological abnormality.
Possible causes of elevated hemoglobin include:
People who live in the highlands of the mountains have high hemoglobin levels. In thinner atmospheres, more hemoglobin is needed to sustainably maintain oxygen levels.
The human body adapts to the changed environments.
Smoking is one of the reasons that can increase this protein.
Smokers develop carboxyhemoglobin, which is a link between hemoglobin and carbon dioxide.
The body responds with an increased production of red blood cells to compensate for the reduced amount of available hemoglobin in the blood.
Dehydration leads to a temporary increase in hemoglobin levels, as the blood is thicker.
A vomiting attack, which leads to the loss of body fluids, can also be the cause of elevated values.
After sufficient fluid substitution, the body returns to its normal hemoglobin levels.
Lung diseases with emphysema
Emphysema is a lung disease that causes:
- enlargement of the alveoli,
- Loss of elasticity of lung connective tissue.
The consequence of this is a reduced oxygen exchange between the lungs and the blood.
There is a lack of oxygen in the body, so more hemoglobin is produced.
Another lung disease that leads to increased hemoglobin is chronic bronchitis.
Some types of tumors can lead to increased hemoglobin.
For example, a kidney tumor can cause increased production of erythropoietin.
In contrast, leukemia and lymphoma usually cause decreased hemoglobin.
Polycythemia rubra vera
Polycythemia vera is a disease that leads to the growth of red blood cells and thus to the proliferation of hemoglobin in the blood.
People suffering from polycythemia have a hemoglobin level of 18.5 g/dl and more.
Pulmonary fibrosis is caused by excessive growth of fibrous connective tissue.
The result is an increase in the hemoglobin value due to lack of oxygen.
Shortness of breath after increased physical exertion is the main symptom of this disease.
Some medicines that improve the performance of athletes can lead to the proliferation of hemoglobin when taken in larger quantities.
For example, erythropoietin (EPO), which is used by many cyclists.
The use of steroidal anabolic steroids can lead to increased hemoglobin.
Extreme physical exertion
High hemoglobin can be the result of excessive physical exertion.
Increased hematocrit and hemoglobin
Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen and is contained in red blood cells, while hematocrit is the percentage by volume of red blood cells circulating in the blood.
Causes of increased hemoglobin and hematocrit
In general, a high hematocrit value means that red blood cells are elevated. But there is no direct connection to this, because two parameters can vary:
- MCH or medium corpuscular haemoglobin content,
- MCV or mean corpuscular volume.
The hematocrit values may also be affected by the size of the erythrocytes.
Reasons for this can be:
► Polycythemia vera
This is a condition characterized by the production of too many red blood cells. This results in a higher blood volume and greater viscosity.
People affected by this may suffer from:
Complications include a high risk of developing thrombosis and bleeding.
Dehydration can alter hemoglobin and hematocrit levels because fluid loss reduces blood volume.
The consequence is a higher number of red blood cells in relation to blood volume.
► Diseases that cause hypoxia (lack of oxygen)
Diseases of the heart and lungs that lead to low oxygen levels can also affect hematological levels.
Diseases that cause elevated hemoglobin levels include:
- pulmonary fibrosis,
- Chronic obstructive bronchopneumopathy, etc.
If the oxygen levels in the blood are lowered, the body produces more red blood cells to compensate for the deficiency.
The kidneys increase the production of erythropoietin, which is a glycoprotein that stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow.
That is why the people who live in the highlands may have problems of increased hematocrit.
► Blood doping
The term doping refers to illegal methods of improving performance in athletes.
These techniques include blood injections via transfusions or by infiltration of erythropoietin.
Erythropoietin is a substance that stimulates the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells.
Symptoms of increased hemoglobin
High hemoglobin can be a symptom of the disease. The doctor recommends blood tests if he detects any of the following symptoms:
- vertigo (dizziness),
- Shortness of breath (rare).
Decreased iron and hemoglobin count
Iron is a mineral that is mainly present in red blood cells.
These are the blood cells that are most abundant in circulating blood.
Blood also contains white blood cells or leukocytes (which are part of the immune system), platelets (which are used to close injuries), and various proteins.
Some of these proteins transport iron, namely transferrin and ferritin.
Causes of decreased iron (or sideremia) in the blood include:
- Too little iron in the diet
- Iron loss due to hemorrhage, for example during a heavy menstrual cycle
- Decreased nutrient absorption, for example due to pernicious anemia, celiac disease, etc.
What to do to lower hemoglobin?
Therapy for elevated hemoglobin includes treatment of the underlying disease, for example:
- If the cause is a drug or doping agent, the intake must be stopped.
- A patient suffering from a tumor must undergo treatment of neoplasia and adjust his diet,
- With dehydration, the necessary means are to drink plenty of fluids and avoid warm and humid areas.
What should you eat? Diet and nutrition with increased hemoglobin
In some cases, better hydration and rest are sufficient.
However, if the cause of increased hemoglobin lies in a disease, a diet to treat the disorder is absolutely necessary.
There are various diets recommended by naturopathy for:
- The improvement of the general state of health,
- The increase of the self-healing powers of the body.
These types of foods are based on foods found in nature and non-industrial and processed foods that:
- may be incompatible with the immune system,
- Be digested slowly, as they contain different mixed foods.
Raw foods are important because cooking changes the nutrients.
What to avoid?
- Ready meals: confectionery, fried foods, spices, etc.
- milk and dairy products,
- cereal products (bread, pasta, pizza, snacks, spelt, etc.),
- sugary and carbonated drinks,
- Salami and cured meats.