What Are the Symptoms of a High Red Blood Cell Count?

Typical symptoms of a high red blood cell count include fatigue and weakness, joint pain, itching and headaches, according to MedicineNet. In cases where this condition is accompanied by risk factors such as cancer of the kidney or liver, fullness and weight loss are common, says WebMD.

Red blood cells are blood components produced in bone marrow, and they transport oxygen to various parts of the body. Men and women whose blood contains more than 5.72 and 5.03 million red blood cells per microliter, respectively, are considered to have a high blood cell count, also called erythrocytosis, notes Mayo Clinic.

Symptoms such as joint pain and itching, particularly itching that occurs after a shower, are common in patients experiencing this condition. Conditions such as chronic lung disease may contribute to secondary symptoms such as breathlessness, sleep disturbances and chronic cough in patients with erythrocytosis. It is important to see a doctor when these signs are present, stresses MedicineNet.

A high red blood cell count can occur due to poor lung or heart function to compensate for low oxygen levels. Loss of blood plasma is another cause, due to depletion of water and sodium in the body. Other causes include cigarette smoking, dehydration, pulmonary fibrosis and polycythemia vera, which is a bone marrow disorder.