RDW

Overview

RDW can be a confusing term for those who aren't in the medical profession. Red cell distribution width (RDW) is a parameter that measures variation in red blood cell size or red blood cell volume. When red blood cells are larger than normal, that could indicate a problem.

Electronic instruments are capable of analyzing the blood sample and detecting the pulses that are produced by red blood cells. The stronger the pulses are, the greater the red blood cells are in size. Likewise, the weaker the pulses are, the smaller the red blood cells are in size.

What is the normal level of the red cell distribution width?

The normal RDW level is 10.2 to 14.5%. It is important to keep in mind that the ranges

mentioned will be different depending on the machine used to do the blood test. The numbers might also have a different acceptable range for children or those who have serious medical conditions.

Indication of RDW Result

There are many things your red blood cells can tell your doctor about your health. Here are just a few of the important points about red blood cell distribution width:

  • In most cases, the RDW can help determine several points about your health, from your chances of developing an iron deficiency to different types of anemia that you may be suffering from.
  • The RDW is most helpful in alerting your doctor to the fact that there is a problem, which will then prompt him or her to call for further tests that will provide more detailed results.

What can cause red cell distribution width to be too low or too high?

These numbers can be associated with a wide variety of conditions. These include sickle cell disease, chronic liver disease or myelodysplastic syndrome. Other problems might include early stages of folate, vitamin B12 or iron deficiency. It might also mean you have dimorphic anemia, which is a marked iron or folate deficiency, just to name a few of the problems that can cause dimorphic anemia.

These blood cell counts are usually part of a normal, routine blood work that your doctor might use to determine your general overall health and possibly pinpoint any issues that might be causing adverse symptoms. Keep in mind that no matter what the RDW indicates, further tests are always necessary to help determine exactly what is wrong and how it should be treated.