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Every person requires millions of red blood cells. Men should have between 4.7 and 6.1 million red blood cells per microliter of blood, and women should have between 4.2 and 5.4 million. The range for children is between 4.0 to 5.5 million red blood cells per microliter of blood. Red cell exchange transfusion is an excellent option for anyone low on blood or needing a blood transfusion.

If the number is lower or higher than the range, something may be happening in your system that needs further examination. Abnormal red cell counts may include smoking cigarettes, dehydration, low vitamin and nutrient levels, and drugs such as steroids. Additionally, disorders like Lyme disease can also be a factor.

What Do Red Cells Do?

When you take a breath, as you inhale, red blood cells carry the oxygen from your lungs to the tissues in your body. The tissues use the oxygen it needs to make energy and produce carbon dioxide with what they don’t use. Red blood cells then carry the carbon dioxide, or waste, back to your lungs to be exhaled as you breathe out.

Abnormal Red Cell Count

If your red blood cell count is lower than the recommended range, your body’s tissues are not receiving the oxygen needed to function correctly. You can develop a disorder like anemia. Your doctor must find out why your body is not producing enough red cells to create an effective treatment plan. If your red blood cell count is higher than the range, you may have erythrocytosis, a condition where your blood becomes too thick and puts you at risk for blood clots.

Red Cell Count and Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans via the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick. The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is Borrelia burgdorferi. Once in your bloodstream, the bacteria will multiply and spread throughout the body if left untreated.

Many may not know that Lyme bacteria are not the only bacteria a tick can carry and transmit to humans. Also, ticks can transmit viruses and parasites to humans. These are often called co-infections by medical professionals. Today, multiple co-infections exist with Lyme disease.

Red Cell Count and Lyme Co-Infections

In a recent study of over 3,000 Lyme disease patients, more than 50% had at least one co-infection, and 30% had two or more co-infections. Common co-infections with Lyme disease include:

Co-infections, like Lyme disease, exist in your blood, damaging your red blood cells. Co-infections can lead to several types of anemia. For example, Babesiosis destroys red cells, causing hemolytic anemia associated with jaundice. Other types of anemia include iron-deficient and normocytic. They can weaken your immune system and produce debilitating symptoms when left untreated.

Abnormal Red Cell Symptoms With Lyme Co-Infections

Reports of symptoms associated with co-infections that destroy red blood cells are similar to those of Lyme disease. Someone with a low red blood cell count may experience the following:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Pale skin

Someone with a high red blood cell count may experience:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint pain
  • Sleep troubles
  • Itchiness
  • Soreness in hands or feet

Co-infections can make Lyme disease symptoms worse.

Theraputic Red Cell Exchange Transfusion (RCET)

To eliminate Lyme disease and co-infections from your bloodstream, your doctor may want to perform a red cell exchange transfusion. This procedure may also be known as therapeutic apheresis. The goal is to replace your infected blood cells with healthy ones. A red cell exchange transfusion is done in the clinic of your Lyme and infectious diseases specialist, who has the modern equipment necessary.

The non-surgical procedure can take a few hours and is performed on an outpatient basis. Your doctor will attach a catheter line or needle to a vein, usually in your arm, and connect it to a machine that processes your blood. As small amounts of blood are drawn, they run through the line to the machine, where your infected blood is separated from your healthy blood.

Also, donated healthy blood is put back into your system through a different line connected to your vein. The device will further separate your blood into red cells, white cells, plasma, and platelets. Therapeutic apheresis is painless, non-invasive, and effective. Reports suggest the procedure reduces babesiosis parasitic loads by 75%.

Key Facts About Red Cell Exchange Transfusion

There is much to know about RCET, especially when treating Lyme disease and co-infections. The facts below represent the most significant benefits of the procedure for your overall health. RCET provides the following:

  • Removal of infected or damaged red blood cells.
  • Alleviation of negative symptoms associated with Lyme disease and co-infections.
  • Treating other disorders such as:
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Leukemia
    • Malaria
    • Muscle stiffness
    • Autoimmune encephalitis
    • Autoimmune neuropathy
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • And many more
  • Reduction of inflammation that causes swelling and pain.
  • Elimination of parasites, viruses, and bacteria, even the ones that antibiotics could not eliminate.
  • Boost your immune system so it can do its job of fighting infections.
  • Completion in a few hours in an outpatient clinical setting, with very few risks and no significant side effects.
  • Results are noticeable soon after the procedure.
  • Additional treatments can be performed if needed.

Do You Need a Red Cell Exchange Transfusion?

Finding the right doctor is possibly one of the most critical steps. Finding out if you can benefit from a red cell exchange is easier than you may think. It starts with a consultation with an infectious disease specialist, such as a Lyme literate doctor. You need a doctor who provides a comprehensive exam of your symptoms and test results.

The right doctor will know that current testing methods do not always detect Lyme disease and co-infections. Therefore, they rely on more effective ways of confirming your diagnosis and creating a treatment plan, with your help, that works. Reach out today to learn how RCET can help you.

What Is a Red Cell Exchange Transfusion (RCET)? - Lyme Mexico Clinic

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