Posted October 4, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read
Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells. Your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. If you have a condition that affects your body’s ability to make red blood cells, your hemoglobin levels may drop.
What is low hemoglobin?
Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells.
Your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body.
Oxygen powers your cells and gives you energy.
A low hemoglobin level may be a sign of several conditions, including different kinds of anemia and cancer.
What happens when hemoglobin is low?
If a disease or condition affects your body’s ability to produce red blood cells, your hemoglobin levels may drop. When your hemoglobin level is low, it means your body isn’t getting enough oxygen, making you feel very tired and weak.
At what level is hemoglobin dangerously low?
Normal hemoglobin levels are different for men and women.
For men, a normal level ranges between 14.0 grams per deciliter (gm/dL) and 17.5 gm/dL.
For women, a normal level ranges between 12.3 gm/dL and 15.3 gm/dL.
A severe low hemoglobin level for men is 13.5 gm/dL or lower.
For women, a severe low hemoglobin level is 12 gm/dL.
What tests do healthcare providers use to diagnose low hemoglobin?
Healthcare providers diagnose low hemoglobin by taking samples of your blood and measuring the amount of hemoglobin in it.
This is a hemoglobin test.
They may also analyze different types of hemoglobin in your red blood cells, or hemoglobin electrophoresis.
What causes hemoglobin levels to go low?
Several factors affect hemoglobin levels:
Your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells. Your body produces red blood cells and white blood cells in your bone marrow. Sometimes, conditions and diseases affect your bone marrow’s ability to produce or support enough red blood cells.
Your body produces enough red blood cells, but the cells are dying faster than your body can replace them.
You’re losing blood from injury or illness. You lose iron anytime you lose blood. Sometimes, women have low hemoglobin levels when they have their periods. You may also lose blood if you have internal bleeding, such as a bleeding ulcer.
Your body can’t absorb iron, which affects your body’s ability to develop red blood cells.
You’re not getting enough essential nutrients like iron and vitamins B12 and B9.
How do you fix low hemoglobin?
Healthcare providers treat low hemoglobin by diagnosing the underlying cause.
For example, if your hemoglobin levels are low, your healthcare provider may do tests that reveal you have iron-deficiency anemia.
If that’s your situation, they’ll treat your anemia with supplements.
They may recommend you try to follow an iron-rich diet.
In most cases, treating the underlying cause of anemia will bring the hemoglobin level up.
What can I do at home to treat low hemoglobin?
Many things can cause low hemoglobin, and most of the time you can’t manage low hemoglobin on your own. But eating a vitamin-rich diet can help maintain your red blood cells.
Generally speaking, a balanced diet with a focus on important nutrients is the best way to maintain healthy red blood cells and hemoglobin. Here are some suggestions:
Red meat (beef) and meat from the organs, like liver.
Leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach.
Lentils, beans and peas.
Nuts and dried berries.