Overview

A hemoglobin test measures the amount of hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body's organs and tissues and transports carbon dioxide from your organs and tissues back to your lungs.

If a hemoglobin test reveals that your hemoglobin level is lower than normal, it means you have a low red blood cell count (anemia). Anemia can have many different causes, including vitamin deficiencies, bleeding and chronic diseases.

If a hemoglobin test shows a higher than normal level, there are several potential causes — the blood disorder polycythemia vera, living at a high altitude, smoking and dehydration.