About Your Lab Tests

Here is some information on lab tests that your care provider frequently orders

When you visit the doctor because you are sick, providers often order laboratory tests as an aid in diagnosing illness or disease in their patients.  When you visit for wellness checks or physical exams, the provider often orders laboratory tests for two reasons:  1) to set a baseline for comparison when you come for a sick visit, to check for early signs of disease that may show up in tests before you actually notice any symptoms.
The following tests are some of the most commonly ordered:

 

Complete Blood Count

A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test used to evaluate your overall health and detect a wide range of disorders, including anemia, infection and leukemia.

A complete blood count test measures several components and features of your blood, including:

    • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen
    • White blood cells, which fight infection
    • Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells
    • Hematocrit, the proportion of red blood cells to the fluid component, or plasma, in your blood
    • Platelets, which help with blood clotting

Results from the CBC test can help:

    • Provide basic information about your health
    • Detect a health condition before you have any symptoms
    • Confirm that a health condition exists
    • Identify the causes of your symptoms
    • Find out if your medicine is working
    • Rule out a disease
    • Establish a baseline that can be used for comparison with future test result

Urinalysis

Urinalysis is very a useful test in the diagnosis of and screening for many diseases and conditions.

Results of a urinalysis may be helpful in:

  • Diagnosing urinary tract infections (UTIs),
  • Diagnosing kidney stones,
  • Screening for and evaluating many types of kidney diseases, and
  • Diagnosing and monitoring disease progression such as diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure (hypertension).

Electrolyte Panel

An electrolyte panel is a blood test that measures the levels of electrolytes and carbon dioxide in your blood.

Electrolytes are minerals, such as sodium and potassium, that are found in the body. They keep your body's fluids in balance and help keep your body working normally, including your heart rhythm, muscle contraction, and brain function.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is also measured in this test. CO2 is a waste product made when the body breaks down food for energy (metabolism). It takes the form of bicarbonate in the blood, so this part of the test is sometimes called a bicarbonate test. Bicarbonate helps your blood stay at the right pH.

Your doctor may order an electrolyte panel as part of a regular health examination. Your doctor may use this test to check on or diagnose a medical condition. Your doctor can also use an electrolyte panel to see if any medicines that you take have changed your electrolyte levels.

An electrolyte panel measures the blood levels of sodium, potassium, chloride, and carbon dioxide.


Lipid Panel

Lipids are found in your blood and are stored in tissues. They are an important part of cells, and they help keep your body working normally. Lipid disorders, such as high cholesterol, may lead to life-threatening illnesses, such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, or stroke.

Your provider may order a lipid panel as part of a regular health examination. Your provider may use the results of this test to prevent, check on, or diagnose a medical condition.

This panel measures:

  • Total cholesterol level.
  • Triglyceride level.
  • HDL cholesterol level. ("good" cholesterol).
  • LDL cholesterol level. ("bad" cholesterol).

You usually need to avoid eating or drinking anything but water for 10 to 12 hours before you have this blood test. You may drink water and take medicines your doctor prescribed during this time. But avoid drinking liquids other than water.

If your provider finds a lipid disorder, treatment may be started to help lower your blood lipid levels. Your treatment could include medicines, diet changes, weight loss, and exercise.


Hepatic Function Panel

A liver (hepatic) function panel is a blood test to check how well the liver is working. This test measures the blood levels of total protein, albumin, bilirubin, and liver enzymes. High or low levels may mean that liver damage or disease is present.

The liver serves several important functions in the body, including changing nutrients into energy for the body and breaking down toxic substances.

Your doctor may order a liver function panel if you have symptoms of liver disease. These symptoms include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing of your eyes or skin (jaundice), dark yellow urine, and feeling very tired. This blood test also may be done if you have recently been exposed to a hepatitis virus or are taking a medicine that may cause liver damage.


Basic Metabolic Panel

A basic metabolic panel is a blood test that measures your sugar (glucose) level, electrolyte and fluid balance, and kidney function.

If you take any medicines, such as diuretics for high blood pressure, your doctor may order a basic metabolic panel to see if the medicines are affecting your kidneys or your electrolytes. Your doctor also may order this panel as part of a regular health examination or to help diagnose a medical condition.

This panel measures the blood levels of sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, carbon dioxide, glucose, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine.

You usually need to avoid eating or drinking anything but water for 10 to 12 hours before you have this blood test. You may drink water and take medicines your doctor prescribed during this time. But avoid drinking liquids other than water.


Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

This group of tests combines both the Hepatic & Metabolic Panels and allows your doctor to assess the health of your liver and kidneys. These vital organs are involved in nutrition, blood purification, and in maintaining your body's natural chemical balance.


Prostate-Specific Antigen

PSA is normally produced in small amounts by a man's prostate gland. An abnormally high level of PSA in the blood can be a sign of prostate cancer. 


Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

TSH is an important hormone in controlling the function of your thyroid gland. Abnormally high or low levels of TSH can be a sign of thyroid disease.


Iron

Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin. This allows your blood to deliver oxygen to your body. A low iron level can lead to anemia and may be a sign of abnormal bleeding.

 

 

For more information please consult with your physician. To learn more about specific testing,
visit Lab Tests Online

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