Do I need treatment for low haemoglobin level?

I am 52-year-old man. At a recent medical exam, my haemoglobin level in the blood test was measured at 12.4.

Is it normal? Do I need treatment? I am otherwise perfectly healthy.

The haemoglobin (Hb) level of 12.4 g/dl is below the normal range of 13.5 to 18 g/dl. This is called anaemia.

While it is not severe or at a critical level, the fact that it is not in the normal range (especially in a male) necessitates further action. This will involve a clinical examination and further investigations to determine the cause before any treatment recommendations can be offered.

Unfortunately, there are many causes of anaemia. It is not possible to determine the cause or to give an exact diagnosis based on the Hb alone. Further investigations such as endoscopies, bone marrow examination and further blood tests may be required. An initial clinical examination may be helpful to determine which of the above investigations are needed.

Some important causes which must be excluded include blood loss from the gastro-intestinal tract (such as peptic ulcer disease, tumours in the stomach/intestines etc), bone marrow disorders (from cancers to drug induced problems), autoimmune problems, kidney problems, liver problems, chronic infective and inflammatory conditions.

Dr Teo Cheng PengDr Teo Cheng Peng is a Senior Consultant specialising in Haematology at Parkway Cancer Centre. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Medicine and Surgery in 1984 and was conferred a Masters of Medicine (Internal Medicine) three years later.

Dr Teo received his advanced training at Royal Marsden Hospital. Upon returning, he started the Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant program at the National University Hospital.

In 1995, he was recruited to develop the Autologous Stem Cell Transplant program for solid tumours in the Department of Medical Oncology, Singapore General Hospital. He continued his career in Gleneagles Hospital, where he continued his work with stem cells in the fields of haematology and medical oncology. To find out more about Dr Teo, click here

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