Medical Specialty >> Primary Care

Doctors Lounge - Primary Care Answers

Back to Primary Care Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge (www.doctorslounge.com) does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on www.doctorslounge.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 9/4/2017.

Forum Name: Studying Basic Sciences

Question: Red Blood Cells


nymomkiana11 - Wed Mar 23, 2005 2:29 am

What would happen to a person if his or her Red Blood cells lived more and less than 120 days? If a person has a clinical problem how might they compensate for this :?:
DHARAM - Sun Apr 03, 2005 11:32 am

Hello nymomkiana11,
Thanks for your question. The average life span of a red cell (erythrocyte) is approx. 120 days. Less than 1% is destroyed per day. This represents a release of about 20mg of iron but most of this is re-used for haematopoiesis. IF AN AVERAGE RED CELL LIVES FOR MORE THAN 120 DAYS, IT WOULD EVENTUALLY BE DEGRADED VIA ENZYMATIC REACTIONS IN BOTH THE LIVER & SPLEEN. IF IT LIVES FOR LESS THAN 120 DAYS, THEN MORE RED CELLS WOULD HAVE TO BE FORMED IN ORDER TO COMPENSATE FOR THE LOSS BECAUSE LESS OXYGEN AND NUTRIENTS WOULD REACH THE TISSUES OF OUR BODY, THEREBY CAUSING ANOXIA / HYPOXIA AND SUBSEQUENTLY ANAEMIA. REMEMBER, FOR EVERY WHITE BLOOD CELL THERE ARE 600 RED BLOOD CELLS & IT IS THE RED CELLS THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RED COLOUR OF OUR BLOOD.
The actual loss of iron in a human male is about 1mg daily and occurs via the skin, hair and urine. the loss in female is more uncertain and in the menstruating woman might be up to 2-3mg daily as the menstrual flow forms a major source of blood loss. Whilst this flow is often about 50mls , it could easily rise to 250mls(125mg of iron). THE NEED FOR IRON INCREASES DRAMATICALLY IN PREGNANCY AND LACTATION AS THE FETUS REQUIRES SOME 200-400MG OF IRON, AS WELL AS THE PLACENTA AS WELL AS DURING CHILDBIRTH. There is some saving due to the amenorrhoea(absence of menstruation) of pregnancy, so the net loss might be negligible or as much as 500-700mg.
WITH REGARDS TO THE CLINICAL PROBLEM AND COMPENSATION, I CANNOT ANSWER THIS QUES. FULLY BECAUSE FIRSTLY, U DID NOT MENTION WHETHER IT IS AN ASSIGNMENT OR RESEARCH PROJECT, ETC. AND SECONDLY, YOU NEED TO BE MORE SPECIFIC AS TO WHAT CLINICAL PROBLEM / CONDITION U ARE REALLY TALKING ABOUT e. g. IRON DEFICIENCY ANAEMIA, APLASTIC ANAEMIA, MEGALOBLASTIC ANAEMIA, HAEMOLYTIC ANAEMIA, ETC.
LOOKING FORWARD TO A SWIFT AND SPECIFIC RESPONSE FROM U A. S. A. P. WITH DETAILS.

YOURS TRULY,
D. SAWH M. Sc., Pharm. D., M. D., F. R. C. P.

Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us