Blood tests are a way to keep track of your blood chemistry and bodily functions. Every element of our blood, under normal circumstances, is present as a specific concentration. Maintaining the right proportions of all components is important for the normal functioning and well-being of the human body.
Diseases cause an imbalance in the blood’s chemistry. An infection promotes an increase in immune cells, while anemia can be observed with a decline in the number of red blood cells or lower hemoglobin levels. Even problems with other organs like the liver and kidney cause the levels of certain enzymes or substances like creatine to increase in blood and can be diagnosed by doing a blood test.
What is a blood test?
During a blood test, a trained lab technician takes a sample of your blood. The quantity taken will depend on the type of test and the number of assessments that have to be done. The blood sample is then taken to a lab and analyzed in different ways. It is observed under a microscope to check the number and shape of the different blood cells. Chemical tests are also done to look for substances like glucose or certain proteins and validate the person’s blood group, blood clotting time, blood cholesterol, and more.
To check for any infections, blood is tested for the presence of antibodies. Antibodies are produced by the immune system in order to ward off bacterial or viral infection in the body.
Each type of disease-causing germ causes the body to release a particular antibody. By observing these antibodies in the blood, a diagnosis can be made on the type of infection a person is suffering from.
Blood tests can also check for the presence of certain hormones and growth factors, like in those of a pregnancy test that is able to confirm whether or not a woman is pregnant.
How to prepare for a blood test
Depending on what blood test you’re getting done, you will get a set of instructions prior to your blood being drawn. One of the most common recommendations is to fast for about twelve hours before the test. Fasting is required when your glucose levels are being tested. Usually, your blood is drawn twice – once when you’re on an empty stomach and a second time about two hours after eating. However, it is important to remember that fasting only means not consuming food or drinks with any calorific value; you can still drink water.
In fact, drinking water at regular intervals before a blood test is recommended. When you are well-hydrated, it makes it a lot easier for your veins to be located and the blood to be drawn. But at the same time, do not go overboard with your water intake as that could affect the electrolyte balance in your blood and interfere with the test results.
For a few tests, you will also be required to stop taking certain medications for some time before the test. For example, if you are on a hormonal pill, you might have to avoid consuming the pill for 24 to 48 hours before the blood test. This way, your natural hormonal levels may be checked without any interference from the changes caused by the medication.
Before you take a blood test, it is therefore important to inform the prescribing doctor or technician about any medication you are currently taking.
You will also need to inform the concerned person about any conditions you might have. In some cases, an ongoing chronic disorder can affect the test results for another condition, giving you a false positive or negative.
No matter how small or insignificant you might think a problem is, it is always better to inform the person administering the test about it. If you have any questions, you should feel free to ask them before your blood is drawn. Most importantly, prepare for your blood test by trying to keep calm and having someone for moral support if you need it.
Ten things to know before you get your results
Time: Your test results could take time. If you haven’t heard back from the lab in the first 24 hours, it could be because your tests need more time to complete. This is especially true when checking for bacterial cultures. Usually, the lab will inform you about when you can expect your results at the time of taking your blood.
What you can expect: When going in for your blood test, you perhaps already know what it’s for. If you’re getting a routine blood test, for example, you can expect to see values for RBC, neutrophils, lymphocytes, HbG, and so on. These stand for different blood components like red blood cells, types of white blood cells, and hemoglobin, to name a few. You’ll also see a numerical value or description alongside each component.
What do the results mean: The results are accompanied by what the normal range is supposed to be. For example, normal hemoglobin levels in women are between 12.1-15.1 g/dl. The value of your hemoglobin level will be displayed alongside this number so that you may compare the results. A value below 12.1 g/dl could be an indicator of being anemic. Similarly, if the different types of white blood cells are higher in concentration than normal, you could have an infection.
When to talk to a doctor: If your test results show your values to be outside of the normal range, then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. While it is preferred to be informed about your test results, you should never draw any conclusions on your own if you’re not a trained physician.
Why you shouldn’t panic: There are several factors that could affect the test results. A qualified doctor knows all the right questions to ask to get a complete picture. A number of circumstances have to be considered before any conclusions are drawn from your blood test results. For this reason, it is best not to panic, even if something doesn’t look quite normal in your test results. Your doctor is the best person to explain what those results mean. Also, if you do happen to have a disease, the doctor can discuss the treatment options that will get you up and running again soon.
What does it mean if something is not “normal?” A blood test result that isn’t normal could mean a variety of things. Certain drugs that you were taking for a cold may have affected the results; a woman’s menstrual cycle might have played a role in the outcome of the evaluation; any allergies or possible hereditary factors would’ve caused a blood test to turn out abnormal. Again, don’t panic if this is indeed the case, but talk to your doctor about the results.
Your age is a factor: Don’t expect to have the same results as that of a blood test that you took ten years earlier. Age can play a role in altering blood chemistry, and some results might vary but still be normal for your present age. Hormonal levels in both men and women change with age.
Mistakes happen: In very rare cases, you could get a completely incorrect result for your blood test. The two most common reasons are mix up of blood samples and contamination of a sample before testing. Although this doesn’t happen very often, your doctor might order a retest if the test results are inconsistent with your symptoms.
When is positive bad? In blood tests, a positive result is often a bad thing. It could denote the presence of an infection or some type of disease. However, identifying the cause of an illness is the first step to effectively treating it.
When is negative good? If your doctor was expecting the worst, but the blood test came negative, this is a good thing. Eliminating the worst cause as a reason gives ways to investigate for other less serious and easier-to-treat causes.
Blood testings at Personalabs
At Personalabs, we offer a wide range of blood tests with highly accurate results through our partner labs. We offer affordable blood testing services, which you can order without a doctor’s assistance. Your results are completely confidential, and you can do whatever you wish with them. We also have a telemedicine service in case you have any questions about the results.
We are committed to providing you with high-tech lab testing services, which are convenient and easy to access. We also offer several resources on our website, including a Symptom Checker where you can fill in the details of your symptoms into a form, and we can check them for you. To know more about our services and how you can get a blood test done, we invite you to contact us; call us on the listed number or use our live chat function.