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17 Feb 2004

Haemoglobin too high?
Dear Doc, recently I had blood tests done due to my orthopaedic surgeon thinking that I may have gout and it was found that my haemoglobin was 20. He was quite astounded and said I should see a Haemotologist because it is too high. My GP suggested I have it done again because it could have been that I was dehydrated at the time. I had it done again and the new reading is 16.2. When I had a full blood count done in December 2003 it was 13.4. It was further suggested by my GP that I have it done again in a week's time.
Please would you explain to me the reason that could cause it to be so high, and how serious is it/ is there any need for concern? I take medication for high blood pressure, cholestrol and vioxx for osteoarthritis in my back. The first thing the Orthopeadic surgeon asked was whether I am a heavy smoker. I have never smoked in my life. I have in the past on and off had a low hemoglobin count and have taken medication like Ferromed prescribed by the doctor. I am due to travel soon (16 March) overseas to various parts of the world and would like to know whether I should panic before I embark on a long trip and whether I should leave it until I get back seeing that it has dropped to 16.2. By the way I am 53 years old.
I look forward to your response.
Kind regards
Answer 17,277 views

01 Jan 0001


The normal range for haemoglobin (Hb) at sea level for a male aged 18-65 years is 12.5 – 17.3 g/dl and for a female 11.5 – 15.5 g/dl. If you are male and your Hb is 16.2 at present, it is well within the normal range and nothing further needs to be done. If you are female, your Hb would be slightly increased if it is 16.2. This condition is known as polycythaemia.

It is strange for an Hb to fluctuate from 13.4 to 20 and then to 16.3 in such a short time (December 2003 to February 2004) without apparent cause. A laboratory mistake must be excluded (poor mixing of sample before analysis). Blood loss and recovery from dehydration could also explain the drop in haemoglobin over a short time. Treatment of hypertension with diuretics could lead to a slight polycythaemia.

I would advise that you discuss the problem with your GP and decide on further investigation and management after the repeat Hb as suggested by your GP.
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