In last week’s blog, Patient Ordered Blood Tests, I talked about direct access for laboratory tests. You schedule the test, take the test, and get the results sent directly to you, all without needing a doctor’s order. A great option for those of us wanting to take a leadership role in our own health.
But with 47 tests available, some gender specific (pregnancy, psa), some that require fasting and some that aren’t even blood, it can seem a little overwhelming. The first thing to remember is you don’t need one of everything!
Seek the guidance of your natural health practitioner and combine it with your own intuition. Read and follow the directions for your specific test. If your test requires fasting, do not eat or drink anything except water for 8-12 hours before your test. Check to see if any of the medications or supplements you currently take will interfere with the test.
Here are 5 common blood tests and their uses:
Complete Blood Count (CBC) – This test counts the specific kind and number of cells circulating in your blood. The CBC gives information about both red and white blood cells. The red blood cells (RBC) are important in transporting oxygen throughout the body. When your body doesn’t get enough oxygen, you can feel tired and have low energy. Your white blood cells (WBC) help the body fight illness or infection and give insight into the immune system. A complete count of each WBC can indicate if you have an infection caused by bacteria, virus, fungi or parasites.
Thyroid – There are multiple thyroid tests available. TSH is considered a general thyroid screen used to detect functioning of the thyroid gland, combined with a T4 Free test it can be used to look for hyperthyroid or hypothyroid disease. A low level of T4 may cause tiredness, depression or weight gain. A high level of T4 may cause nervousness, irritability or weight loss. Regular testing is recommended when undergoing a protocol to balance thyroid function.
Glucose – Most tests for glucose will require fasting. This test is used to detect abnormally high or low blood glucose levels. High glucose levels after fasting may indicate diabetes or pre-diabetic condition while low glucose can mean the liver needs attention. In natural medicine, glucose is one of the tests we watch for trends.
Lipid Panel – Includes cholesterol, HDL, LDL and Triglycerides. Cholesterol is an essential blood fat made in the liver and used in the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids used in digestion. There is much debate about when and how to treat cholesterol so be sure to consult your natural health practitioner.
Vitamin D – Research suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, cancer and multiple sclerosis. Regular testing can be used to monitor a supplement routine.