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Red Blood Cells or Erythrocytes - A Comprehensive Overview

Red Blood Cells for Transporting Oxygen Throughout the Body 

Every human body is equipped with many different organs and cells that work with each other to enable us to live a healthy life and go on with our daily activities. That being said, blood and oxygen are two of the most important things that the human bodies require to maintain and even operate all the organs. As we know,  blood is made of four important components that include erythrocytes or red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and white blood cells.

Here in this post, we are going to take an extensive look into the meaning of RBC, erythrocytes functions, RBC full form, and everything else we need to know about erythrocytes meaning and function of RBC in human bodies.


What are Red Blood Cells?

Red blood cells, also known as erythrocytes, are these cellular components found in our blood. There are millions of erythrocytes present in the human body, and their only purpose is to carry oxygen from the lungs to other different parts of the body. This makes it very important to familiarize ourselves with erythrocytes' meaning and functions. The other primary function of RBC is to carry carbon dioxide from different body parts to the lungs so that it can be exhaled. Haemoglobin, a protein used to bind oxygen to the cells, is found in red blood cells, giving them the red colour.  

Every red blood cell has to undergo a complex process where the deoxygenated blood cell is converted into an oxygenated blood cell through the function of RBC. These erythrocytes have to enter the heart two times in the process.  

Anatomy of Red Blood Cells

Now that we have a general idea about erythrocytes meaning, let us talk about their anatomy. Red blood cells or erythrocytes are produced in the soft bone tissue of our bodies, commonly known as bone marrow. Every cell in the human body is produced with bone marrow making it imperative to have healthy bones. Erythrocytes take about seven days to fully mature, after which they are released into our bloodstream.  

Additionally, red blood cells feature a bright red colour which they get from a protein called haemoglobin found in erythrocytes. Haemoglobin is also responsible for latching oxygen from our lungs and delivering it to other parts of the body.

In terms of appearance, we need a microscope to see erythrocytes generally shaped like a flat disc that is round in shape with a dent in the centre. However, unlike doughnuts, RBC is not hollow from the centre. Unlike white blood cells, erythrocytes are not equipped with a nucleus enabling them to change their shape for moving through the body without any hassle. 

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Nutrition and Erythrocytes

Maintaining healthy red blood cells is imperative for maintaining the overall health of our body as low RBCs can have an adverse effect on erythrocyte functions leading to different medical conditions. Hence, it is highly recommended that we consume food items that will help us maintain the health of our erythrocytes. Nutrients like iron, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-2, and vitamin B-3 are a must-have for ensuring the proper health of our blood cells. One must consume food items such as whole grains, eggs, and bananas. Further, one can also consume cereals, lentils, green leafy vegetables, dried beans, and orange juice as they are rich in folate, and it helps in maintaining the health of erythrocytes in our bodies.   

Common Red Blood Cell Health Conditions

Most of us are not concerned about the health of our red blood cells unless we have developed some medical conditions that affect the RBCs in blood. Erythrocyte diseases can result from inadequate intake of nutrients, or they can even be inherited. These conditions can either be a result of low RBCs or high RBCs, as the body always needs the ideal amount of red blood cells for the appropriate function of the RBC.

Low Red Blood Cell Count

Different health conditions that can affect a low erythrocytes count include:

  • Cancer: It has been witnessed in many cases that cancer or even chemotherapy for treating cancer can have an adverse effect on the number of normal RBCs produced by the body.

  • Anaemia: People with anaemia have to deal with the blood carrying less oxygen to a different body part as compared to the usual proportion. This can result in one feeling weak, cold, or tired.

  • Bone Marrow Disorder: In these cases, severe damage is caused to the bone marrow responsible for producing red blood cells.

  • Blood Loss: People with this condition have to cope with the consequences of the body losing more blood cells than it can produce. 

Effects Causing High Red Blood Cell Count

A health condition that can affect the high red blood cell count in a human body includes:

  • Congenital Heart Disease: Congenital heart disease can cause an increase in the erythropoietin level which stimulates the bone marrow erythropoiesis causing an increase in blood cell count. 

  • Polycythemia Vera: A higher count of red blood cells can thicken the blood, ultimately resulting in stroke or heart attack.

  • Lung Disease: High RBCs count can end up scarring our lungs because of COPD, emphysema, or pulmonary fibrosis.

  • Hypoxia: This is another prevalent condition caused due to the increase in the level of red blood cells, where the oxygen level in our blood always remains low.

Fun Facts: 

  • Fatigue, lack of energy, muscle weakness, and other similar conditions can be symptoms of erythrocytes health conditions.

  • Smoking cigarettes or taking performance-enhancing drugs can lead to high RBCs in the body.

  • Complete Blood Count is a test used to determine the proportion of red and white blood cells in the human body.

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FAQs on Erythrocytes

1. What do we mean by normocytic normochromic RBCs?

When someone uses the term normocytic normochromic RBCs it means that the red blood cells are normal in size and colour. Normocytic normochromic RBCs is generally used by people in clinics to interpret the value of haemoglobin in the blood.

2. What is the full form of RBC?

One of the most common questions asked about RBC is its full form; even though it is not very complicated, RBC full form literally translates to Red Blood Cells. Therefore, one must first understand RBC full form before diving into the meaning of RBC or function of RBC.