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Forum Name: Hematology Topics

Question: what does "enlarged red blood cells" mean?

 baba1938 - Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:10 am

I had a blood test a year or 2 ago and the only thing found was "enlarged red blood cells." My doctor said this was commonly associated with alcoholics. I rarely drink, perhaps once or twice a year, if that. The blood tests were done while trying to diagnose abdomen pain. The only other thing the doctors said was that there was some "sludge" in my gall bladder.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:59 pm

User avatar Hello -

Enlarged red cells, or macrocytosis, is not a disease nor disorder, but can be a sign of a number of relatively minor problems of which alcoholism is only one. It can also indicate a deficiency of vitamin B-12 or folate, liver disease, chemotherapy, or even can be a result of the bone marrow trying to compensate for anemia due to any cause including a one-time blood loss.

Most of these problems would have showed up in a routine comprehensive metabolic panel blood test, which may well have been done at the same time as the CBC which showed up the large red cells. Again, macrocytosis is not a disease and is not problematic in itself.

Sludge in the gallbladder is another problem entirely, and could possibly cause biliary colic (gallbladder "attack") but is usually left alone in the absense of any symptoms. It is made up mostly of cholesterol, and eventually forms gallstones, which may also cause gallbladder problems -- or not.

I hope this answers your questions. Best of luck to you.


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