Hemoglobin (Hgb)

There are no preparation instructions.

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.

Also known as: Hb, Hemoglobin Hgb, Hgb


Serum hemoglobin is a blood test that measures the level of free hemoglobin in the liquid part of the blood (the serum). Free hemoglobin is the hemoglobin outside of the red blood cells. Most of the hemoglobin is found inside the red blood cells, not in the serum.
*Important Information on Lab Test Processing Times: Ulta Lab Tests is committed to informing you about the processing times for your lab tests processed through Quest Diagnostics. Please note that the estimated processing time for each test, indicated in business days, is based on data from the past 30 days across the 13 Quest Diagnostics laboratories for each test. These estimates are intended to serve as a guide and are not guarantees. Factors such as laboratory workload, weather conditions, holidays, and the need for additional testing or maintenance can influence actual processing times. We aim to offer estimates to help you plan accordingly. Please understand that these times may vary, and processing times are not guaranteed. Thank you for choosing Ulta Lab Tests for your laboratory needs.

The Hemoglobin (Hgb) test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The Hemoglobin test, also known as a Hemoglobin level or Hb test, is a common laboratory test used to measure the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is an iron-containing protein found in red blood cells (RBCs) that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and helps transport carbon dioxide back to the lungs for removal.

Also Known As: Hgb Test, Hgb Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Whole Blood

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Hemoglobin test ordered?

A Hemoglobin test may be ordered in various situations:

  1. Routine Health Check-ups: It is often included as a part of routine health screenings or annual check-ups to assess overall health and detect any underlying conditions.

  2. Evaluation of Anemia: Anemia is a condition characterized by a decrease in the number of red blood cells or a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, and dizziness. A Hemoglobin test helps in diagnosing and monitoring anemia.

  3. Monitoring Chronic Conditions: Individuals with chronic conditions such as kidney disease, heart disease, or certain types of cancer may require regular Hemoglobin tests to monitor their blood status and response to treatment.

  4. Preoperative Assessment: Before undergoing surgery, a Hemoglobin test may be ordered to evaluate a patient's blood count and ensure they are in optimal health for the procedure.

What does a Hemoglobin blood test check for?

Hemoglobin is an iron-containing protein found in all red blood cells, which gives them their distinctive red color. RBCs use hemoglobin to bind to oxygen in the lungs and transport it to tissues and organs all over the body. It also aids in the movement of a little amount of carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct of cell metabolism, from tissues and organs to the lungs, where it is exhaled.

The hemoglobin test determines how much hemoglobin is present in a person's blood sample. To swiftly assess an individual's red blood cells, a hemoglobin level can be used alone or in conjunction with a hematocrit, a test that assesses the fraction of blood made up of RBCs. Red blood cells, which account for roughly 40% of the amount of blood, are created in the bone marrow and released into the bloodstream when they are mature, or nearly so. RBCs have a 120-day lifespan, and the bone marrow must constantly manufacture new RBCs to replace those that have aged and degraded or have been lost due to hemorrhage.

RBCs, and thus the level of hemoglobin in the blood, can be affected by a variety of diseases and situations. When the quantity of red blood cells grows, the hemoglobin level and hematocrit both rise. When the synthesis of RBCs by the bone marrow decreases, RBC destruction increases, or blood is lost owing to hemorrhage, the hemoglobin level and hematocrit fall below normal. Anemia is a disorder in which the body's tissues and organs do not acquire enough oxygen, causing exhaustion and weakness. It is caused by a decline in RBC count, hemoglobin, and hematocrit. Polycythemia occurs when the body produces too many RBCs, causing the blood to thicken, resulting in sluggish blood flow and other complications.

Lab tests often ordered with a Hemoglobin test:

When a Hemoglobin test is ordered, it's often part of a broader evaluation of blood health and related disorders. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC):

    • Purpose: Provides a comprehensive overview of blood health, including red and white blood cells and platelets.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To evaluate overall blood cell health, quantity, and quality. It helps in diagnosing conditions like anemia, infection, inflammation, and blood cancers.
  2. Hematocrit (Hct):

    • Purpose: Measures the proportion of blood volume that is made up of red blood cells.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To complement the Hemoglobin test and provide additional information about red blood cell levels and potential anemia.
  3. Iron Studies:

    • Purpose: To evaluate body iron stores and iron utilization.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To diagnose iron deficiency anemia or iron overload conditions like hemochromatosis.
  4. Reticulocyte Count:

    • Purpose: To measure the number of young red blood cells in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess bone marrow function and the body’s response to anemia.
  5. Vitamin B12 and Folate Tests:

    • Purpose: To measure levels of these essential vitamins.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To identify deficiencies that can lead to certain types of anemia, such as megaloblastic anemia.
  6. Erythropoietin (EPO) Level:

    • Purpose: To measure the amount of EPO, a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To evaluate the body’s response to anemia and help diagnose conditions affecting red blood cell production.

These tests, when ordered alongside a Hemoglobin test, provide a comprehensive view of blood health and can help diagnose, monitor, and manage a variety of blood-related conditions, including different types of anemia and polycythemia. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual's symptoms, medical history, and initial test results.

Conditions where a Hemoglobin test is recommended:

A Hemoglobin test may be required in the following conditions or situations:

  1. Anemia: Hemoglobin testing is essential in the evaluation and monitoring of different types of anemia, such as iron-deficiency anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, folate deficiency anemia, and hemolytic anemia.

  2. Chronic Diseases: Chronic conditions like kidney disease, heart disease, and certain cancers can lead to anemia, making regular Hemoglobin tests necessary to monitor the condition and adjust treatment accordingly.

  3. Blood Disorders: Hemoglobin testing is used in the diagnosis and monitoring of blood disorders such as sickle cell disease, thalassemia, and various types of anemias associated with underlying hematological conditions.

How does my health care provider use a Hemoglobin test?

Health care providers use the results of a Hemoglobin test in the following ways:

  1. Diagnosis of Anemia: A low hemoglobin level indicates the presence of anemia. Based on the severity and other diagnostic information, the specific type and cause of anemia can be further investigated.

  2. Monitoring Treatment Response: For individuals diagnosed with anemia, regular Hemoglobin tests are used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment, such as iron supplementation or blood transfusions. The results help determine if the treatment is improving the hemoglobin levels.

  3. Overall Health Assessment: Hemoglobin levels are important indicators of overall health and can provide insights into the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Health care providers use the results of the Hemoglobin test alongside other clinical information to assess a patient's general health status and make informed medical decisions.

In summary, the Hemoglobin test is a standard laboratory test that measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. It helps diagnose and monitor anemia, assess blood disorders, and evaluate overall health. The results of the Hemoglobin test, along with other diagnostic tests, aid health care providers in identifying underlying conditions, determining treatment plans, and monitoring patient progress.

What do my Hemoglobin test results mean?

Because hemoglobin levels are frequently measured as part of a complete blood count, the results of other components are taken into account. Hemoglobin levels must be interpreted in conjunction with other indicators such as RBC count, hematocrit, reticulocyte count, and/or red blood cell indices when they rise or fall. Other characteristics to consider are age, gender, and race. Hemoglobin reflects the RBC count and hematocrit results in general.

Anemia is defined as a low hemoglobin level combined with a low RBC count and a low hematocrit. Among the causes are:

  • Excessive blood loss-as a result of severe trauma or continuous bleeding from the digestive tract, bladder, or uterus.
  • Iron, folate, or B12 deficiency are examples of nutritional inadequacies.
  • Toxins, radiation, chemotherapy, infection, and medicines can all cause damage to the bone marrow.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome, aplastic anemia, or tumors of the bone marrow, such as lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, or other cancers of the bone marrow
  • Renal failure—severe and chronic kidney illnesses cause the kidneys to produce less erythropoietin, a hormone that drives RBC synthesis in the bone marrow.
  • Inflammatory diseases or disorders that last a long time
  • Hemoglobin production is reduced.
  • Excessive destruction of red blood cells, such as hemolytic anemia caused by autoimmunity or faults in the red blood cell itself, such as hemoglobinopathy, RBC membrane abnormalities, or RBC enzyme.

Polycythemia is defined as a high hemoglobin level combined with a high RBC count and hematocrit. Among the causes are:

  • Lung disease-when a person's body is unable to breathe in and absorb enough oxygen. As a result, the body produces more red blood cells to compensate.
  • Congenital heart disease—in some cases, an improper connection between the two sides of the heart occurs, resulting in lower blood oxygen levels. The body responds by creating extra red blood cells in an attempt to compensate.
  • Excess erythropoietin-producing kidney tumors
  • Hemoglobin levels in heavy smokers are higher than in nonsmokers.
  • Genetic factors
  • Having to live at a high altitude
  • Dehydration causes hemoglobin to rise unnaturally when the volume of liquid in the blood declines.
  • Polycythemia vera-a rare condition in which the body creates too many RBCs.

Most Common Questions About the Hemoglobin test:

Understanding the Hemoglobin Test

What is the Hemoglobin test?

The Hemoglobin test is a routine blood test that measures the amount of hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body.

Why is the Hemoglobin test ordered?

The Hemoglobin test is commonly ordered as part of a complete blood count (CBC) during routine health check-ups, or when you have signs and symptoms suggesting anemia, such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, or a rapid heartbeat.

Interpreting Hemoglobin Test Results

What does a high Hemoglobin test result mean?

A high hemoglobin level could be a result of living at high altitudes, smoking, dehydration, or it may be related to diseases such as lung or heart disease, kidney cancer, or polycythemia vera.

What does a low Hemoglobin test result mean?

A low hemoglobin level is typically a sign of anemia, which can be due to a variety of causes, including iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, blood loss, or a chronic disease.

What factors can affect Hemoglobin test results?

Several factors can affect hemoglobin levels, including nutrition (iron, vitamin B12, and folate), kidney function, and certain medications. Also, pregnancy, high altitudes, smoking, and alcohol can affect hemoglobin levels.

Hemoglobin Test and Specific Conditions

Can the Hemoglobin test diagnose diseases other than anemia?

While the Hemoglobin test is primarily used to diagnose anemia, abnormal levels may also suggest other health conditions like lung disease, heart disease, or kidney cancer.

Can the Hemoglobin test detect blood disorders like Thalassemia or Sickle Cell Disease?

Yes, both conditions can cause an abnormal Hemoglobin test result. Thalassemia often results in lower than normal levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, while Sickle Cell Disease causes the production of an abnormal type of hemoglobin, known as hemoglobin S.

How does the Hemoglobin test relate to cancer diagnosis and treatment?

Certain types of cancer, especially those affecting the bone marrow, can impact hemoglobin levels. In addition, the test is often used to monitor the effect of cancer treatment on the blood.

General Queries about the Test

How does the Hemoglobin test differ from the Hematocrit test?

While both tests are used to evaluate red blood cells, they measure different things. Hemoglobin test measures the amount of hemoglobin protein, while the Hematocrit test measures the percentage of total blood volume that is made up by red blood cells.

Can certain medications affect the Hemoglobin test?

Yes, certain medications can affect hemoglobin levels. For example, chemotherapy drugs can lower hemoglobin levels, while erythropoiesis-stimulating agents used to treat certain types of anemia can raise them.

Why isn't the Hemoglobin test used as the sole method for diagnosing anemia?

While a Hemoglobin test can suggest anemia if the levels are low, it doesn't provide information about the cause of anemia. Additional tests, like a complete blood count (CBC), reticulocyte count, iron studies, and vitamin B12 and folate levels, may be needed for a complete diagnosis.

Can the Hemoglobin test predict the risk of developing anemia or other blood-related diseases?

A single hemoglobin test can't predict the risk of developing anemia or other blood-related diseases in the future. However, consistent low hemoglobin levels over time could suggest an ongoing problem that might lead to anemia.

Can the Hemoglobin test be used to monitor treatment for anemia?

Yes, the hemoglobin test is often used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for anemia. An increase in hemoglobin levels usually indicates that the treatment is working.

How does the Hemoglobin test relate to overall body wellness and nutrition?

Hemoglobin levels can be influenced by overall nutrition. Low levels can occur with deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, or folate. So, a Hemoglobin test can sometimes reflect nutritional status.

How does age affect the Hemoglobin test results?

Normal hemoglobin ranges can vary slightly depending on the lab and age of the patient. Children and women usually have lower hemoglobin levels than men.

How do other blood cells impact the Hemoglobin test results?

The concentration of other blood cells doesn't directly affect the Hemoglobin test. However, overall red blood cell production and health can influence hemoglobin levels, as hemoglobin is a component of red blood cells.

Can the Hemoglobin test help in understanding cardiovascular diseases?

Yes, both low and high hemoglobin levels can be related to certain cardiovascular conditions. Anemia (low hemoglobin) can make existing heart problems worse, and high hemoglobin often correlates with a higher risk of heart disease, mainly because it increases blood viscosity.

Can the Hemoglobin test be used in the detection of genetic disorders?

While the Hemoglobin test can't directly detect genetic disorders, abnormal results can suggest conditions like Thalassemia or Sickle Cell Disease, which are genetic in nature.

Does the Hemoglobin test help in determining the severity of anemia?

Yes, the severity of anemia is often classified based on hemoglobin levels.

How does general health condition impact the Hemoglobin test?

Chronic diseases like kidney disease, cancer, or chronic inflammatory diseases can lead to lower hemoglobin levels. On the other hand, dehydration can artificially increase hemoglobin levels.

Can the Hemoglobin test help in understanding mental health disorders?

While there's no direct link between hemoglobin and mental health, severe anemia can sometimes cause symptoms like fatigue and difficulty concentrating, which might impact mental health.

Can the Hemoglobin test be influenced by a person's lifestyle?

Yes, lifestyle factors such as smoking, high altitude living, high-performance athletics, and alcohol consumption can influence hemoglobin levels.

Can the Hemoglobin test determine the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood?

Yes, since hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, a Hemoglobin test indirectly gives information about the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

How does gender affect the Hemoglobin test results?

Hemoglobin levels are typically slightly higher in men than in women. Also, women of reproductive age may have fluctuating hemoglobin levels due to menstrual blood loss.

Can the Hemoglobin test diagnose dehydration?

While it cannot diagnose dehydration directly, hemoglobin levels can appear artificially high in cases of severe dehydration because of the reduced volume of plasma in the blood. This does not mean there is more hemoglobin present; it's just more concentrated.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

Customer Reviews