What Does Low MCHC Mean?


What Is Low MCHC?

Blood constitutes the circulatory system of the body. It is a vital fluid that channelizes the flow of necessary substances to and from different body cells.

Erythrocytes or red blood cells (RBCs) contain hemoglobin which acts as an oxygen carrier. Hemoglobin contained in RBCs is the principal transport means of oxygen from lungs to various body tissues. If the hemoglobin count decreases below a particular level it is regarded as low MCHC.

Hemoglobin is a protein molecule, derived from the Greek word “haima” and the latin word “globus,” where, “haima” means “blood” and “globus” means “ball.”   MCHC is nothing but an abbreviation used for mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration.

What Is MCHC?

Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration or MCHC is the average count of hemoglobin in the red blood cells.  As per the definitions of biology, the word corpuscle means a living cell. Here this living cell is red blood cell.

Any deviation from the normal level of MCHC is an indication of something serious. If ignored for a prolonged duration, it can also turn out to be life threatening. You should take appropriate steps to restore the MCHC level to normal.

Low MCHC Symptoms

Low MCHC indicates a low concentration of hemoglobin in a person’s red blood cells. Any individual with low MCHC levels may show signs and symptoms such as:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of stamina
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Easily bruising
  • Dizziness

When is the MCHC Test Done?

If you experience any of the symptoms such as fatigue or weakness, you may get yourself tested for MCHC. You can test for MCHC even when there is an infection, bleeding, bruising easily, any gastrointestinal tract tumors or a particular condition when there is noticeable inflammation.

MCHC test helps you test for anemia. To identify potential blood issues MCHC test is accompanied by an MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume) test. But what is the average or low level of MCHC which calls for attention?

In a healthy adult the mean concentration of MCHC should fall in the range of 33 to 36 g/dL or 28 to 33%. MCHC levels less than 28% are considered very low.

What Does Low MCHC Mean?

When your MCHC level falls below 28% or 32 grams/deciliter, MCHC levels are regarded as low. Such low levels require immediate attention and subsequent measures.

For measuring MCHC concentration there are MCHC blood tests. Different laboratories use different techniques and machinery. It leads to various results of the blood tests, so it is best considered to check with the average range of 32-36 grams/deciliter MCHC.

Low Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration means there is less hemoglobin in the cell than required for the proper functioning. This condition is known as hypochromia, or hypochromic anemia caused due to blood loss, too little iron in the body or other medical conditions.

What Are the Causes of Low MCHC?

There can be various underlying reasons for the abnormality in the MCH or MCHC levels in red blood cells of an individual. Some include:

1. Anemia: Level of MCH or MCHC indicate the nature and severity of the anemia you have. Low levels of MCHC may indicate the possibility of hypochromic microcytic anemia. Anemia can also be an early indication of cancer.

2. Iron Absorption: Certain medical conditions like celiac disease, gastric surgery hinder the absorption of iron.

3. Vitamin Deficiencies: Low MCH or MCHC may be due to vitamin deficiencies. Your blood may have inadequate amounts of folate and Vitamin B complex.

4. Low-Grade Blood Loss: Blood loss due to long menstrual cycle or peptic ulcers can also lead to low levels of MCHC.

5. Other Causes: Certain medical disorders like cancer, lead poisoning and parasitic infections like hookworm infection, may also be the responsible sources.

It is important to take a well-balanced diet on all days and at all time to avoid complexities because blood transfusion is not an easy process.

Low MCHC Treatment: How to Improve MCHC Level?

The most common complication of living with low MCHC levels is lack of energy and decreased stamina which limits your activities. Low MCHC levels, can pose a challenge to supply enough oxygen to all its tissues.  Here are some methods to improve low MCHC levels.

1. Dietary Changes

Dietary change is the best and natural way to improve your MCHC level. Iron deficiency can cause low MCHC level, so try adding foods rich in iron and vitamin B-6 to your diet.

Consumption of vitamin B6 and vitamin C along with the iron supplement will enhance the absorption of iron. The body absorbs iron from animal sources more quickly as compared to plant products.

Fibrous foods help you improve the intestinal absorption of iron. Limit your calcium intake as too much can make it difficult for your body to absorb iron. To counter low folic acid levels causing anemia, you may consider folate rich foods.

Patients who suffer from Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease should keep a close check on their gluten intake. Gluten intake affects your iron absorption thereby such foods must be avoided. Some people may need iron injections as a substitute for dietary sources.

Iron rich foods: Beans, red meat, seafood products, poultry products, peas and spinach, pork.

Vitamin B-6 rich foods: Bananas, wild (not farmed) tuna, chicken breast, salmon, and sweet potato.

Vitamin B-12 rich foods: Meat and dairy products

Vitamin C rich foods: Citrus fruits like citrus fruits, broccoli, kiwi fruit, mangoes, melons, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes

Gluten rich foods: Wheat, rye, and barley

Folate rich foods: Leafy green vegetables, legumes, meats, liver, wheat bran and whole grains.

2. Drugs

A few drugs may subject to abnormal variation in your MCHC level just as in case of drug-induced hemolytic anemia. In this condition, a particular drug may prompt the immune system to attack its own RBC. It is better to avoid these drugs and look for alternatives to improve low MCHC levels.

Examples of such drugs include: NSAIDs, cephalosporin, levofloxacin, penicillin, and methyldopa.

3. Systematic Malfunctioning

Certain other medical conditions like cancer, bone marrow defect, and kidney failure can lead to abnormal MCHC. In such situation, the sufferer may require particular treatment or therapy.

Keep a check on the low MCHC to avoid fatigue and weakness. Increase your MCHC levels by switching to a healthy and balanced diet rich in colorful veggies and fruits to feel energetic and rejuvenated.

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“MCHC Blood Test –Low, High, What does it Mean,” Act For Libraries web site,; http://www.actforlibraries.org/mchc-blood-test/, last accessed September 14, 2017.
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Dr. David Cummings, MD

David Cummings, MD, is a medical reviewer and editor at Daily Health Cures. David received his medical degree from the University of Illinois.