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implications of blood test results

Hello, I am a 55 year old male, and have been having a cough with phlegm and pain in the ribs for around a month now. My doctor sent me for a blood test with the following abnormal readings: Low HGB of 12.5; High RBC of 5.98; Low MCV of 64.8; and low MCH of 20.9. Would anyone have a clue as to what problem these readings could indicate? The cough seems to worsen whenever I eat or exercise. Thanks very much.
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1415174 tn?1453243103
Hi, We are not doctors on these forums but I am a microbiologist and can give you some advice. Firstly did the doctor do a xray of the lungs and listen to your lungs? They should do this to make sure you have no pneumonia? Do you have a fever? If so how high? If they haven't done these things they should have. You might need antibiotics. If those things are clear you might have bronchitis which will clear on its own over time. Usually, bronchitis doesn't make eating worse but exercise might make you cough more. You can still walk but not a fast walk. It depends on what they did. The other blood tests sound like you have anemia. That has nothing to do with your cough usually. You can get some other tests to check for anemia like a blood iron test, ferritin, vitamin B12, folate. Have you seen any bleeding like dark stools when you go to the toilet? does it hurt to press on your stomach or side such as the upper right or left side or lower right side etc? Do you have night sweats? Hae you been tested for current TB? Do you have a lot of fatigue?
Just trying to figure it out. Did you have a cold or flu before this happened?
Thanks so much for your response, and sorry for this delayed reply. The doctor did not do an x-ray, but listened to the lungs and said they were clear. He gave me antibiotics, but I haven't taken them as I felt the cough was improving. I haven't noticed any blood in the stool, nor any excessive fatigue except for shortness of breath on climbing a hill- I have to stop frequently, while others older than me seem to climb without halting. I had caught an infection with cough and phlegm going around the community where I work, and made the mistake of not stopping exercising. It then developed into a slight fever one night, and then the nature of the cough seemed to change- it seemed to come from much deeper within, and the rib pain also started. So my lower right ribs still hurt when I cough or sneeze now, even though the cough seems to have subsided. I haven't noticed any night sweat, nor been tested for TB, though I did have TB as a child and was on a course of daily injections. My worry is whether all this could indicate a possibility of either cancer or TB? I have read that a cough of long duration, around a month now, with pain in the ribs could indicate cancer? Thanks very much once again for your response.
Hi Malan,
So it sounds like your doctor checked your lungs but your cough got worse after that and then you got a fever too? You may need antibiotics. You may have gotten a secondary infection. So I would go back to the doctor as it sounds more like a bacterial infection from being run down due to the virus rather than TB . I don't think it is cancer by your description.  So I would take the full course of antibiotics. After that see how your feel. But do finish all of the antibiotics. The doctor gave you the antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection and since you didn't take them it sounds like you got a secondary. Alternatively, since you had a fever it may be wise to go back to the doctor and tell him you got worse and didn't take the antibiotic. Have them check you out. This would be because the original antibiotic may not be as strong as necessary for what you have now or they may decide to give you a different one. It is up to you to decide. But a lot of people are getting pneumonia from the flu this year.  You can also get other types of secondary infections from being run down from various viruses.  Sometimes you can get bronchitis also. So that is why you may want to ask them if it is bronchitis or pneumonia.Usually, you don't get a fever from bronchitis. But with pneumonia the fever is usually high like 100 or 101 or more. 99 degrees isn't that worrysome. Does this help?
Again thanks very much for the response, and sorry for the delayed reply- I seem to keep missing the reply thread when checking my e-mails. I feel much better now as far as the cough and phlegm is concerned, though a slight pain in the lower part of the right rib remains- I feel it when sneezing or lying on my right side. I am hoping that, as you have suggested, it is an infection which is improving. Thanks once more and with best wishes, Malan
Sounds like you are getting better. You may have had a secondary infection. Try putting some heat like from a hot water bottle or heat pack on the area and that should make it feel better. If it gets worse take the antibiotics or see your doctor. But it sounds like it is improving.
You are welcome. Sorry you had trouble reading the replies. I try to get that fixed. Hope it is easier to read now?
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