A full blood count (FBC) is a very common blood test that is also sometimes called a complete blood count (CBC) or full blood examination (FBE). It is a test for general health, but it can also provide information about a range of conditions.
What is being tested?
A full blood count test looks at the number, types and sizes of different cells in your blood, including:
- red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body
- white blood cells, which fight infection
- platelets, which help blood to clot
It also measures haemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen around the body and is found in red blood cells.
Why would I need this test?
A full blood count is a very common test used to screen for, help diagnose, and monitor a variety of conditions. It can be used as part of routine medical testing, or to examine specific issues such as:
- tiredness or weakness
- bleeding or clotting problems
- exposure to toxic substances
- monitoring response to treatment
There are many medical conditions that can affect the full blood count. Blood cells can also be affected by some medications and some vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
How to prepare for this test
No preparation is needed for this test.
Understanding your results
Many conditions change the numbers and proportions of various blood cell types in your blood. These changes can provide a great deal of information about your health. Here are some examples:
- You might have more red blood cells if too many are being made or you have lost fluid in your body. You might have fewer red blood cells or lower haemoglobin (anaemia), which can make you feel tired and weak.
- Infection and inflammation affect the number and types of white blood cells in the blood. Particular kinds and proportions of white blood cells can indicate specific conditions. Sometimes, diseases like leukaemia can make the white blood cell count very high.
- Bleeding and clotting disorders can affect the numbers of platelets in the blood.
There is a wide range of conditions and medicines that can affect the cells in your blood, so it is best to discuss your test results with your doctor.
Full Blood Count explanation video
Video provided by Pathology Tests Explained
About full blood count testing
See the Pathology Tests Explained website for more information about a full blood count.
About blood testing
Visit our healthdirect‘s ‘Guide to blood testing’ to learn more about blood tests in general, including information about:
- what to consider before having a blood test
- what happens during a blood test
- results accuracy
- blood tests cost
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Last reviewed: August 2020