What is MCV in Blood Test?

MCV or the Mean Corpuscular Volume Blood Test is a simple measure or test of the human blood that determines the different types and the measure of blood cells present in the body.

Healthy red blood cells flowing through veins

The MCV or the Mean Corpuscular Volume Blood Test is a simple measure or test of the human blood that determines the different types and the measure of blood cells present in the body. In fact, MCV is meant to measure the actual volume of an individual’s red blood cells. Corpuscle is another term for Red Blood Cell lending the term corpuscular to the phrase mean corpuscular volume to literally translate to mean red blood cell volume.

There is a normal range of the MCV or mean corpuscular volume which is 80 fl to 100 fl. Some variations may exist among laboratories but these are just slight differences that should not affect the overall result of the MCV blood test. There are established abnormal levels, though, and they can be divided into Microcytic Anemia and Macrocytic Anemia. Microcytic Anemia occurs when an individual’s number of total red blood cells is lower than normal or when the blood cell is smaller than the regular size. This is simply called a Microcytosis or Microcytic Anemia.

Another form of abnormal MCV or Mean Corpuscular Volume level is called Macrocytic Anemia which means that the individuals Mean Corpuscular Volume is higher than the standard range for normal Mean Corpuscular Volume or that the blood cells are larger than the regular size. This kind of abnormal MCV level or mean corpuscular volume level is simply called macrocytosis or Macrocytic anemia. It is true that the term anemia is usually associated with low blood cells in general but people need to understand that microcytic anemia is very different and distinct from macrocytic anemia.

What Increased Levels of Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) Means

Individuals who have increased levels of Mean Corpuscular Volume or MCV levels may indicate that the individual or the patient has Macrocytic Anemia or macrocytosis. This condition should make the patient’s doctor request for further tests to determine why the patient’s Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) is elevated. A small increase in the MCV may not be that worrisome and troublesome in terms of major health conditions. However, those with an identified Macrocytic Anemia are encouraged to talk to their healthcare professional to check for any underlying health condition.

Do You Have Macrocytic Anemia or Macrocytosis? What Does It Mean?

As stated earlier, having elevated or increased levels of MCV means that a patient has macrocytic anemia. Increased levels of MCV should prompt your doctor to look further into why an individual has macrocytic anemia. Mild macrocytosis is often regarded as a non-issue when it comes to adverse health effects. For extreme macrocytosis, the doctor may conclude that he or she has a deficiency of Vitamin B12 or hyperhomocysteinemia. For hyperhomocysteinemia to occur or manifest as a low MCV reading in a patient, the individual is assumed to have had the condition for greater than two (2) years.

Macrocytosis caused by Vitamin B 12 deficiency or hyperhomocysteinemia may be due to various factors. Some of the more common ones include GI or gastrointestinal problems, Vitamin B12 malabsorption, excessive or too much alcohol intake, and a poor or unhealthy diet.

What About Microcystic Anemia or Microcytosis?

Having decreased or lowered levels of MCV means that a patient or individual has microcytic anemia or Microcytosis. The occurrence of Microcytosis may be fairly common in MCV blood tests, particularly for those women who are experiencing their monthly period. Most doctors will usually check and monitor the reasons behind the lower levels of MCV. This is because low MCV or Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) may indicate a serious health issue such as bleeding problems such as an ulcer that slowly bleeds.

Ulcer and bleeding usually transpire in an individual’s gastrointestinal tract. This can pose serious health problems if they are left unchecked and untreated. However, if it is determined that the patient does not have any bleeding problems or ulcers despite having low levels of MCVs, then other reasons may be looked into by the doctor. Other possible reasons for having low levels of MCV include:

  • Excessive heavy metal in the system
  • Decreased levels of Vitamin B6 intake
  • Gluten sensitivity or other forms of GI or gastrointestinal malabsorption problems
  • Decreased levels of iron intake

The doctor of patients with Low levels of MCVs or microcytosis may recommend other tests to check other underlying medical conditions that may be causing MCVs. These tests include testing for Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac Disease and Ferritin and Iron Levels. Celiac Disease is not always easily diagnosed as it does not have the standard symptoms associated with gluten intolerance. However, the early detection and treatment of the abovecited disease may prove to be beneficial to the overall health of individuals with abnormal levels of MCVs.

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