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Decoding and Making Sense of your Blood Test

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

How’s your albumin level? What is your BUN/creatinine ratio? Unless you enjoy going over the thick dictionary for medical terms, your routine blood tests can seem to be downright cryptic and decoding or understanding them can seem confusing and condescending. It is important to learn to decipher them and be aware of what those numbers against the tricky abbreviations really mean. Learning to understand these complicated shorthanded abbreviations not only yields surprising insights into your own well-being, but can also help you spot and fix problems in your health.

1. Blood Glucose

The carbs that you consume finally get broken down into glucose, which is a type of sugar that your body readily uses as fuel. It is an essential component of the blood and essential for the body, but too much of it can lead to diabetes, or even heart of kidney disease. Stress and lack of sleep can add to the problem, but a diet rich in sugar is the worst offender that affects health adversely. Glucose in the range of 70 to 100 mg/dL is considered normal, but it is ideally preferred in the mid 80s range.

2. Creatinine with GFR

There are two main kidney tests –creatinine and urea nitrogen. While both are equally important, this test is particularly sensitive and measures a muscle waste product that is typically handled by the kidneys. A low GFR (which stands for Glomerular Filtration Rate) indicates that the kidneys aren’t functioning in the right manner.

3. Alkaline Phosphatase, AST, ALT

The liver is responsible for keeping the blood in the body clean and for turning food into energy. This is a test that helps ascertain how well the process is taking place in the body. Slight deviation in the numbers can lead to problems relating to nausea or stomach pain. Avoiding alcohol and eating plenty of liver protectors like avocado and ginger goes a long way in keeping these numbers in check.

4. Cholesterol

Cholesterol is vital for the normal functioning of the body. It is mainly produced in the liver and is also found in some foods. An excessively high level of blood cholesterol adversely affects a person’s health. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can get built up and clog the arteries or eventually be responsible for triggering a heart disease or even a stroke. The lower the cholesterol / HDL ratio, the lower is your risk of developing heart diseases. Regular exercising, avoiding saturated fats, and taking in plenty of omega-3 fatty acids through salmon and flaxseeds can help lower this ratio.

5. C-Reactive Protein

An elevated CRP indicates inflammation in the body. It is difficult to ascertain from the tests however if the inflammation caused is due to the immune system as it fights off infection and causes the CRP to spike for a short term. If the elevated CRP persists for a long time, something could be seriously amiss. It is believed that CRP is a better indicator of heart problems and gives a clearer picture than the tests for cholesterol level. CRP levels can be controlled by eating anti-inflammatory foods including cherries, oatmeal, and shrimp. Practicing soothing yoga and meditation can also help ward off CRP.

6. Iron

Do you feel low on energy? An iron deficiency could be the reason for it. Iron is responsible for shuttling oxygen to your brain, where it is used to produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters. A below-normal iron level is quite common in young women who lose iron when they menstruate. Serum Ferritin test is a more sensitive test that measures the iron stored in your body’s tissues, and not just in your blood. Diet can be adjusted to include foods rich in iron in order for it to hit a normal range. Iron supplements can also be taken with a doctor’s subscription. However, it is important for you to be careful with the iron supplements as too much of iron is toxic for the body.

7. Complete Blood Count (CBC)

The count of the various components of blood – RBC (Red Blood Cells), WBC (White Blood Cells), and platelets give your physician a peek into your overall health. For instance, a low RBC count indicates anemia. High WBC could mean that your body is suffering from a stressed condition. Low platelet level leads to increased bleeding and an increased tendency to get bruised easily. A good CBC score can be achieved with regular exercise, good diet, and plenty of sound sleep.

8. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)

TSH is responsible for regulating the thyroid level in your body, which, in turn, keeps your metabolism moving. This is essential for keeping your weight and energy level in check. The ideal TSH level is believed to lie between 0.35 and 3 uIU/mL. Low levels can lead to anxiety and excessive weight loss; high levels can translate into fatigue, depression, and weight gain. Early onset of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism is usually treatable with medicines. Foods containing iodine boost thyroid function and must be included in your daily diet.

9. Vitamin D

Screening for Vitamin D is not very commonly done along with the routine blood test, but you must insist on it. Too-high Vitamin D level (though very rare) is toxic. Too-low vitamin D level can leave you feeling sluggish all day, coupled with body aches. They can also be related to more serious conditions such as osteoporosis. Food containing vitamin D, vitamin D supplements, and optimum sun exposure can help cure a case of deficiency of Vitamin D.

The ranges generally depend on your age, gender, medical condition, etc. any abnormality in the results must be discussed with a physician and must be taken care of properly. Discussing these results with your physician is a must as the physician can effectively diagnose your condition and suggest proper treatment.

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