What is Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin (MCH)?
MCH stands for “mean corpuscular haemoglobin.” An MCH value refers to the average quantity of haemoglobin present in a single red blood cell. Haemoglobin is the protein in your red blood cells that transports oxygen to the tissues of your body.
Your MCH value is related to two other values, mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC). Together, MCH, MCV, and MCHC are sometimes referred to as red blood cell indices.
MCV is a measurement of the average size of your red blood cells. MCH results tend to mirror MCV results. This is because bigger red blood cells generally contain more heamoglobin while smaller red blood cells tend to have less.
Why is this analysis important?
Low MCH values are often caused by iron deficiency anaemia. Typically, this condition can be treated with lifestyle changes including consuming foods rich in iron as well as taking iron supplements. In the rare case that your low MCH value is caused by thalassemia, you may require blood transfusions if your symptoms are severe.
High MCH values caused by a deficiency of the vitamins B-12 or folate can also often be treated with changes to your lifestyle that include dietary modifications and supplements, or injectable B-12.
What are some of the causes of high Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin (MCH)?
High MCH value can often be caused by anaemia due to a deficiency of B vitamins, particularly B-12 and folate. Both of these vitamins are required by your body in order to make red blood cells.
These types of anaemia can develop if your diet is low in B vitamins or if your body does not absorb B-12 or folate properly. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of a B-12 deficiency.
What are some of the causes of low Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin (MCH)?
A low MCH value typically indicates the presence of iron deficiency anaemia. Iron is important for the production of haemoglobin. Your body absorbs a small amount of iron that you eat in order to produce haemoglobin. Some of the general causes of iron deficiency include eating a diet that is low in iron, major surgery or trauma, or blood loss.
In rare cases, low MCH can be caused by a genetic condition called thalassemia. In this condition, the production of haemoglobin is limited. This means there aren’t as many red blood cells circulating in your bloodstream.
MCHC is a calculation of the amount of hemoglobin per unit volume in a single red blood cell. The difference between MCH and MCHC is that the MCHC measurement takes the volume or size of the red blood cell into account while MCH does not.