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Can an energy drink prior to blood test increase RBC levels ?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 1991
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I had my normal checkup about two weeks ago and my blood test came back with a 17.5 hemoglobin level and a RBC of 5.89. I was moving stuff before the appointment and had a large 22oz energy drink not thinking I had a dr.s appointment. He diagnosed me with Polycythemia, but I look at the normal levels for RBC and HGL and I seem to be within the range, especially that I was dehydrated. He has me completely panicked.
Posted Mon, 30 Apr 2012 in X-ray, Lab tests and Scans
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 28 minutes later
Relative polycythemia such as yours is usually seen in dehydration, increase in blood pressure (related to your effort and energy drink consumption). A 22oz (650 ml) energy drink can contain between 300 to 1500 mg of caffeine! Smoking, alcohol, chronic hypoxia, sleep apnea (or snoring / sleep disorders) are other common causes.
I recommend that you repeat the tests before worrying about these results and add a PCV (Packed Cell Volume) and ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate). Only if these are abnormal, will you require further investigation.
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Follow-up: Can an energy drink prior to blood test increase RBC levels ? 33 minutes later
I have to make one correction by RBC was actually 6.4 not 5.89. Does this change anything?
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 7 hours later

No, since it is near the upper limit of normal. All the more reason to get the above-mentioned tests done.

What altitude do you live at?
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Follow-up: Can an energy drink prior to blood test increase RBC levels ? 9 hours later
I live in Asheville, NC the elevation here is about 3,000 feet above sea level.

Thank you for clearing some of this stuff up. :)
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 21 hours later

Thanks for following up.

People residing at high altitude are exposed to low oxygen levels which can cause hypoxia. However nature of human body is designed in a way that they don't suffer from the symptoms of hypoxia. So one such change that is done to counter the effects of low oxygen levels is raise in RBC counts - polycythemia.

There are no studies which reports at what levels above sea the changes are expected. But the changes are not expected at 3000 feet above sea level. Implying that the location where you are staying has no role in the current symptoms you are facing.

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Follow-up: Can an energy drink prior to blood test increase RBC levels ? 4 days later
Hello Again,

I got ahold of my blood tests. I am waiting to see a different doctor next month but here is what it read. Also I was wrong once again on my RBC (see below for values)

Everything else on that CBC panel tests normal except:

HEMOGLOBIN: 17.5H (Reference Range: 13.2 - 17.1 g/dl)
HEMATOCRIT 51.3H (Reference Range 38.5 - 50.0 %)

The other tests:

WBC: 8.8
RBC: 5.51
MVC: 93.3
MCH: 31.8
MCHC: 34
RDW: 12.8
Platelet: 203

My Cholesterol is also really high

Total 259

HDL: 46
Triglycerides: 128
LDL: 187

So this is where I stand at the moment.

Any clues?
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 18 hours later
Hi again,

The Hemoglobin and the Hematocrit values provided could be considered normal , as the slight increase in the values can be expected due polycythemia which occurs normally during acclimatisation to high altitude as you live in a place much above the sea level.

The concern should be about the lipid profile where both the bad lipids , the cholesterol and LDL are raised. I would advice you to stay on fat restricted diet and get retested after a month from now , if you see no improvement after dieting then you may have to consult your GP so that you be put on Hypolipidemic drugs like statins.

Wish you Good health
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