Last updated on October 23rd, 2022 at 10:13 am
Laboratory test checks a sample of your blood, urine, or body tissues. A technician or your lab manager analyzes the test samples to see if your results fall within the normal range. The tests use a range because what is normal differs from person to person. Many factors affect test results. These include;
- Your sex, age and race
- What you eat and drink
- Medicines you take
- How well you followed pre-test instructions
Your doctor may also compare your results to results from previous tests. Laboratory tests are often part of a routine checkup to look for changes in your health. They also help doctors diagnose medical conditions, plan or evaluate treatments, and monitor diseases.
Why do I need a laboratory test?
Quick Jump Table
Laboratory tests are used in many ways. Your doctor may refer one or more laboratory test to;
- Diagnose or rule out a specific disease or condition
- An HPV test is an example of this type of test. It can show you whether you have an HPV infection.
- Screen for a disease. A screening test can show if you are at a higher risk of getting a specific disease. It can also find out if you have a disease, even if you have no symptoms.
- A Pap test is a type of screening test for cervical cancer
- Monitor a disease or treatment. If you’ve already been diagnosed with a disease, laboratory tests can show if your condition is getting better or worse. It can also show if your treatment is working.
- A blood glucose test is a type of test that is used to monitor diabetes and diabetes treatment. It is also sometimes used to diagnose the disease.
- Check your overall health. Laboratory tests are often included in a routine checkup. Your doctor may refer to tests of various organs and systems to see if there have been changes in your health. Testing can help find health problems before symptoms appear.
- A complete blood count is the type of a routine test that measures different substances in your blood. It can give your doctor important information about your overall health and risk for certain diseases.
How do I prepare for a laboratory test?
A laboratory test or lab test is a procedure in which a lab technician takes a sample of your blood, urine, other body fluid, or body tissue to get information about your health. Lab tests are often used to help diagnose or screen for a specific disease or condition. Screening helps diagnose diseases before symptoms occur. Other tests are used to monitor a disease or see if treatment is effective. Laboratory tests may also be done to provide more general information about your organs and body systems.
For any type of lab test, prepare for it by:
- Following are all the instructions given to you by your laboratory manager
- Telling your lab professional if you didn’t follow these instructions exactly. It’s important, to be honest. Even a minor change from the instructions can have a big effect on your results. For example, some medicines raise or lower blood sugar levels. Taking them too close to a blood sugar test could affect your results.
- Telling your laboratory technician about any medicines, vitamins, or supplements that you are taking
Taking these steps can help ensure your lab test results will be accurate and reliable.
Why do I need to fast before my laboratory test?
If your laboratory manager has told you to fast before a blood test, it means you should not eat or drink anything, except water, for several hours before your test. When you eat and drink normally, those foods and beverages are absorbed into your bloodstream. That could affect the results of certain types of blood tests.
What types of laboratory tests require fasting?
The most common types of lab tests that require fasting include;
- Glucose tests, which measure blood sugar. One type of glucose test is called a glucose tolerance test. For this lab test, you will need to fast for 8-10 hours before the lab test. When you arrive at the path lab or laboratory facility, you will:
- Have your blood tested
- Drink a special liquid containing glucose
- Have your blood re-tested one hour later, two hours later and possibly three hours later
Glucose tests are used to diagnose diabetes.
- Lipid profile test, which measures triglycerides, a type of fat found in the bloodstream, and cholesterol, a waxy, fat-like substance found in your blood and every cell of your body. High levels of triglycerides and/or a type of cholesterol, called LDL, can put you at risk for heart disease.
How to understand your laboratory test results?
Lab test results are often shown as a set of numbers known as a reference range. A reference range may also be called “normal values.” You may see something like this on your result – “normal: 77-99mg/dL” (milligrams per deciliter). Reference ranges are based on the normal test results of a large group of healthy people. The range helps show what a typical normal result looks like.
But not everyone is typical. Sometimes, healthy people get results outside the reference range, while people with health problems can have test resulted in the normal range. If your lab test results fall outside the reference range, or if you have symptoms despite a normal result, you will probably need more testing.
Your lab test results may also include one of these terms;
- Negative or normal, which means the disease or substance being tested, was not found
- Positive or abnormal, which means the disease or substance was found
- Inconclusive, which means there wasn’t enough information in the results to diagnose or rule out a disease. If you get an inconclusive result, you will probably get more tests.
Tests that measure various organs and systems often give results as reference ranges, while tests that diagnose or rule out diseases often use the terms listed above.
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