What Causes High Red Blood Cells Count?

By on December 3, 2013

High red blood cells count, also called as polycythemia that results in increased hematocrit or hemoglobin. Polycythemia is divided into two categories, such as primary and secondary.

In primary polycythemia, the elevated red blood cells is due to the inherent problems in the production of red blood cells and secondary polycythemia, the increased red blood cells count is due to other underlying factors or conditions.

There are several factors that can result in high red blood cells count, such as:

Reduced Fluid Volume

Causes High Red Blood Cells CountReduction in plasma or fluid in the blood can cause secondary polycythemia. Diarrhea, burns, dehydration, vomiting and taking certain form of medications that cause increased urination can create such kind of effect.

Reduced Oxygen

Sometimes, reduced oxygen levels can result in secondary polycythemia. Individual’s body recompenses for impaired lung and heart functioning by increasing red blood cells count. Smoking, COPD, high altitudes, heart failure [High Output Heart Failure], lung fibrosis can result in secondary polycythemia.

Tumors or Cysts

Existence of tumors or cysts in the brain, liver or kidney increases the production of hormone called erythropoietin, which again increase the production of RBCs.

Some athletes may take erythropoietin injections for increased athletic performance which also cause increased RBCs. It causes symptoms like fatigue, headache, visual disturbances and dizziness.


Smoking deprives the bone marrow of oxygen and it’s tricked into thinking that it needs to increase its production of red blood cells, which are the carriers of oxygen.

Polycythemia Vera

It is a condition of bone marrow that causes increased production of red blood cells. This condition makes the blood thick and cloths and more easily, but the symptoms are not noticeable for many years.

It may cause symptoms like fatigue, headache, weakness, night sweats, light-headedness, bleeding gums, shortness of breath, vision changes, itching and enlargement of spleen and liver.

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