What are the Symptoms of High RDW?

What are the Symptoms of High RDW?

High Red Cell Distribution Width (RDW) is a measure of the variation in red blood cell size. It’s often included in a complete blood count (CBC) and can provide insights into various health conditions. Elevated RDW levels may be associated with certain medical conditions, but it’s important to note that RDW elevation itself does not cause symptoms. Instead, symptoms are generally related to the underlying conditions causing the increased RDW. Here are some potential conditions associated with high RDW and their respective symptoms:

  1. Anemia:
    • Symptoms of anemia can include fatigue, weakness, pale or sallow skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, and cold hands and feet.
  2. Nutritional Deficiencies:
    • Depending on the specific deficiency (e.g., iron, vitamin B12, folate), symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, tongue soreness or swelling, and difficulty concentrating.
  3. Hemolytic Anemias:
    • These can cause symptoms such as fatigue, pale or jaundiced (yellowing) skin, dark urine, rapid heart rate, and in severe cases, shortness of breath and chest pain.
  4. Chronic Diseases:
    • Conditions like chronic liver disease, chronic kidney disease, or chronic inflammation may elevate RDW. Symptoms can vary based on the underlying condition but might include fatigue, weakness, appetite changes, and overall malaise.
  5. Thalassemia:
    • Thalassemia is a genetic disorder affecting hemoglobin production, and it can cause symptoms like fatigue, weakness, pale or jaundiced skin, and bone deformities.
  6. Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS):
    • MDS are a group of disorders where the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. Symptoms may include fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, and frequent infections.
  7. Inflammatory Disorders:
    • Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which involve chronic inflammation, can elevate RDW. Symptoms may include joint pain, stiffness, fatigue, and fever.
  8. Bone Marrow Disorders:
    • Disorders affecting the bone marrow, such as leukemia or myelofibrosis, can cause a high RDW. Symptoms vary but often include fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding, frequent infections, and bone pain.

It’s important to remember that RDW is a marker and not a diagnosis. Any concerns about elevated RDW levels or associated symptoms should be discussed with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and appropriate diagnosis.

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