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When you consider anemia, you might think of a person who is very thin, pale and tired. This is a misconception, however, as some types of anemia have virtually no symptoms and can only be detected by a blood test for anemia.
To diagnose anemia, the laboratory will do two types of blood tests. First, a complete blood count (CBC) is ordered to measure the red blood cells (erythrocytes) and hemoglobin, the substance in blood that carries iron. The CBC blood test will return a percentage indicating the number of erythrocytes in the bloodstream. That percentage is called the hematocrit. If this percentage is low, doctors must investigate further to determine what is causing the problem.
Next, a blood smear will be performed. Using this blood test for anemia, the pathologist can examine the blood by color, size and shape. Since many blood disorders can affect the shape of the red blood cells, making them thinner or fatter, this examination is vital for the doctor to make a proper diagnosis.