Pathology Laboratory

What is a Blood Test?

Last updated on September 26th, 2022 at 11:06 am

A blood test is an important tool used by doctors to diagnose diseases such as cancer or diabetes. In this article, we’ll explain what is a blood test, why they’re so useful, and how to prepare yourself for one. Get ready for a blood test!

A Blood Test

A blood test or Blood tests have a wide range of uses and are one of the most common types of medical test.

For example, a blood test can be used to:

  • assess your general state of health
  • check if you have an infection
  • see how well certain organs, such as the liver and kidneys, are working
  • screen for certain genetic conditions

Most blood tests only take a few hours to complete and are carried out at your clinical lab or phlebotomist (a specialist in taking blood samples).

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What is a blood test?

A Blood Test is a sample of blood drawn from a vein in the body, typically in the arm, and examined to find out if it is normal or abnormal. Blood tests are more often done for checking thyroid function, blood count, nutritional deficiencies, liver/kidney function, and various tissue cancers.

What can a blood test report tell you?

Blood tests show whether the levels of different substances in your blood fall within a normal range. For many blood substances, the normal range is the range of levels seen in 95 percent of healthy people in a certain group. For many tests, normal ranges vary depending on your age, gender, race, and other factors. Your blood test results may fall outside the normal range for many reasons. Abnormal results might be a sign of a disorder or disease. Other factors such as diet, menstrual cycle, physical activity level, alcohol intake, and medicines (both prescription and over the counter) also can cause abnormal results. Your doctor should discuss any unusual or normal blood test results with you. These results may or may not suggest a health problem. Many diseases and medical problems can’t be diagnosed with blood tests alone. However, blood tests can help you and your doctor learns more about your health. Blood tests also can help find potential problems early, when treatments or lifestyle changes may work best.

Why are blood tests performed?

You want to reduce your risk of disease or complications. Regular blood tests can catch the early warning signs of almost any disease. Many hearts, lungs, and kidney conditions can be diagnosed using blood tests themselves. Regular lab testing can also take you a step further than just disease prevention.

How blood test is performed?

A blood test usually involves taking a blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm. The arm is a convenient part of the body to use because it can be easily uncovered. The usual place for a sample to be taken from is the inside of the elbow or wrist, where the veins are relatively close to the surface.

What about blood tests in children?

Without symptoms of disease, children rarely need many laboratory blood tests. However, helping children develop healthy habits, like eating well and being active, could prevent serious and costly health problems as they grow older. For example, helping an overweight child reduce his or her weight can prevent diabetes and heart disease in later years.

What do the blood test results mean?

A blood test sometimes referred to as a blood panel is a laboratory examination of a blood sample used to check for a variety of things, including the functioning of certain organs (such as the liver, kidneys, thyroid and heart), infections and certain genetic disorders, as well as to assess an individual’s general health. After the sample has been analyzed in the lab and the results compiled, a blood test report will in most cases be supplied to the testee. The report details the various components in the blood and at what level they are present. For those from non-medical backgrounds, the reports provided following blood tests can be complex and difficult to decipher.

What if something is wrong with a blood test report?

When you look at a printout of your lab results, you’ll find the normal ranges for each blood test next to your results. For example, if your routine blood work includes a test for calcium in the blood, your lab may list the normal range for calcium as 8.3 to 9.9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). If your result is a 9.1 mg/dL, right in the middle, you can feel confident that your calcium level is normal. But what if a blood test result is at the very low or high end of normal, or even slightly outside the normal range? Is that a red flag? Don’t jump to conclusions, blood test results can vary a little, depending on the lab. And many people are consistently in either of the normal range, and for them, that’s healthy.

What can I do to prepare for a blood test?

Avoid drinking or eating anything for 8-12 hours before the test. You may drink only water. You should not eat 3 hours before the clinical blood test. Eat less fatty and fried food, and avoid alcohol 1-2 days before the test. Don’t smoke for 1 hour before the test. Enzyme and hormone levels vary depending on the time of day, so these tests should be performed before 10 a.m. unless your doctor shows otherwise. Avoid any physical activity and stress before your blood test. It is recommended that you calm down and relax for 10-15 minutes and think about nothing during the withdrawal. If you are planning to use a medication, perform tests before or after treatment, and no sooner than 10-14 days post-treatment. If you are taking any medication, tell your doctor or laboratory specialist. Blood testing is not recommended after massage therapy, reflex therapy or physiotherapy. Women’s hormones fluctuate during the menstrual cycle and these fluctuations can influence the results of hormonal testing. For this reason, during preparation for a sex hormone test, it is necessary to show the cycle phase and follow the doctor’s recommendations on which cycle day to choose for testing. When testing the blood for infections, it is necessary to consider the stage of infection development and the state of immunity. A negative test result does not show that there is no infection. If laboratory test results cause doubts, it is appropriate to repeat the test in 3-5 days. It is best to perform infection tests 10-14 days after the onset of disease when antibody production is the most active.

What happens after a blood test?

Blood is a fascinating substance. A small amount can tell us so much and help to detect and diagnose thousands of health issues. So what happens after your blood test when your blood is taken to the lab? After the blood sample has been taken, it will be put into a bottle and labelled with your name and details. It will then be sent to a laboratory where it will be examined under a microscope or tested with chemicals, depending on what’s being checked. The results are sent to you personally or on request sent back to the hospital or your doctor.

Reference: NufieldHealth

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