This article is Medically Approved ✓ by Dr. Edward Salko
There is more to your blood type than just random letters. In times where things are dire, it can become your lifeline.
That’s why if you’re not sure under which type you belong to, taking a blood type test can secure your good health and future recovery from severe medical conditions.
Blood consists of the following components:
- Red blood cells – It is responsible for carrying oxygen to cells and removing wastes.
- White blood cells – It fights off disease-causing microbes and substances.
- Platelets – It promotes clotting.
- Plasma – It carries the three other blood components along with nutrients, hormones, and other essential molecules.
According to the American Red Cross, every 2 seconds, someone in the US needs blood and platelet transfusion.
While the process of transferring blood may seem straightforward, the clinical understanding behind it is critical. It’s a make-or-break moment. And accurate information about the patient’s blood type becomes a vital determinant.
What Is a Blood Type?
A blood type is identified through the kind of antigen found on the red blood cells. Antigens are molecules that can be proteins or carbohydrates (sugars).
They mainly trigger an immune response when foreign invaders enter the body system. But they also carry out other critical functions such as transporting substances through and out the cell and keeping the form of the red blood cells.
Different Blood Types
Blood types are primarily identified through the ABO blood group system. But
The ABO blood group system is the most common way to cluster blood types. It is also the primary reference when it comes to performing a blood type test as it is the most valuable information when it comes to clinical procedures – at least when blood is concerned.
There are four ABO groups. The antigen determines each blood type in the red blood cell (RBC). But aside from this molecule, the plasma also has a specific antibody that will attack a matching antigen from other blood types.
Type A – People who have blood type A have an antigen on the surface of the RBC. On the other hand, the plasma has an anti-B antibody that will attack blood cells or with B antigen (Type B).
Type B – Blood type B has B antigen on its RBC and anti-A antibodies in the plasma.
Type AB – Blood type AB has RBCs that contain both A and B antigens. However, it does not have any antibodies that attack either A or B antigens.
Type O – Blood type O is the opposite of type AB. Neither A nor B antigens are attached to the surface of the RBCs. But it contains anti-A and anti-B antibodies.
As a result, people with blood type O can only receive blood donations from people with the same blood type. On the flip side, they can donate to anyone regardless of if they type A, B, or AB since their RBCs don’t contain antigens that antibodies would attack.
Rh Positive and Negative
Aside from the AB antigens, red blood cells may also contain an inherited protein called the Rhesus factor.
If this protein is present, you’re considered Rh-positive, but if it is not detected, then you’re Rh-negative.
You can take an Rh typing blood test to determine if you have the Rh protein.
How Your Blood Type Affects Your Health
1. It is the primary reference for successful blood transfusion.
When an incorrect blood type is transfused to your system, you may suffer from a series of immune responses that could lead to a life-threatening condition.
With this ABO incompatibility reaction, you can suffer from blood clots, respiratory distress, high fever, low blood pressure, bloody urine, among other symptoms.
Nowadays, mismatched blood type transfusion is rare. Medical professionals understand the severity of the risks of ABO incompatibility reaction.
However, if it actually happens, it is usually associated with human error. To avoid this mistake, doctors order a blood type test to confirm and be extra sure before performing a major medical procedure.
2. It provides relevant information for a healthy pregnancy.
Rh incompatibility can jeopardize a mother’s healthy pregnancy. This condition can occur when a woman and her spouse have Rh factors that don’t match.
Say, the mother is Rh-negative, and the father is Rh-positive. Then, there is a higher chance that the fetus will inherit the Rh-positive from the father.
When the blood of the fetus and the mother mix, especially during birth, the mother’s immune system will produce antibodies against the Rh protein.
This could lead to conditions like the hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN), where the red blood cells of the fetus or infant diminish at a faster rate than average.
For mothers, Rh incompatibility can lead to ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. In this sense, blood typing plays an essential role in fertility and conception.
First-time mothers are less likely to experience Rh incompatibility than those in their second pregnancy and above.
Several preventive measures are recommended when your OB finds out the condition, such as the Rh immune-globulin shots.
3. It determines your risk for several diseases.
Serological research explored the connection of the different blood types to the risks of developing certain diseases.
For example, people with blood type A or B are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases than people with blood type O.
Furthermore, in a study published at the National Library of Medicine, those with blood type B are at higher risk of diabetes mellitus (type 2) than those with blood type O.
Clinicians always consider blood type along with family history in understanding the vulnerability of patients to metabolic and chronic diseases.
If the blood type is unknown, a blood type test must be performed to get the most accurate information.
How Is Blood Type Test Performed?
A blood type test will require a blood sample which is typically drawn out from the veins in your arm or through fingerpicking.
The blood sample is mixed with antibodies to generate a reaction and confirm the blood type.
These antibodies are anti-A antigen and anti-B antigen. So, for example, you mix anti-A antibodies to a sample, and the blood cells stick together.
The result may suggest that you have blood type A unless the sample also produces clumping with anti-B antibodies. If this occurs, you have blood type AB.
To detect whether your Rh positive or negative, an anti-Rh serum is combined with your blood sample. If the blood cells clumped together, then you’re Rh-positive.
In a Nutshell
Your blood type can easily be known through a blood type test. The procedure is quick and straightforward.
Nonetheless, it could be one of the most important tests you’ll have to take, considering the risks of mismatched blood transfusion along with other blood-related conditions.
Major medical procedures generally require accurate blood type information. Likewise, it reveals critical conditions that can be treated when caught early.
If you’re still unsure about your blood type, simply order a blood type test online and get to the procedure without too much work.