How To Read and Understand Blood Work Results from Medical Labs

After you get blood work done, you should always try to get a copy of the lab results. Of course, that’s only the first step. you also have to know how to read and understand those results. Here are some tips to help you interpret your results.

  1. Get a copy of your lab test. If you’ve undergone blood testing, and the doctor or medical facility doesn’t offer you a copy of your test, request one. If you had blood work done, and live in the USA, it is your right to get copies of those tests from the doctor or medical laboratories who administered them. The law that allows you to ask and receive copies of your health records is part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules. After you request copies of your blood work results, the law states that the medical facility has 30 days to get your paperwork to you. Keep in mind that some facilities may ask you to sign a permission form before releasing the tests to you.

    Now that you have copies of your blood tests, it’s important to save them. If you ever change doctors and the medical records haven’t been transferred yet, or you want a second opinion on a medical condition, this paperwork can be helpful to the new physician. Plus, as you know, the Internet is a great place to get answers to your medical questions. You may want to share your results on a medical forum to get doctors’ or patients’ opinions.

  2. Learn how to read blood test results. Most medical laboratories will include the result, reference range, and normal values next to the title of the blood test on your lab results. Compare the result column to the reference range. By doing this, you can determine if your test result is lower or higher than normal. If your results are outside of the normal values, the facility will usually flag the results by highlighting them or state “abnormal” on your report. The report will also have an abnormal column that lists the results with an L or an H (meaning low or high respectively).

    Don’t think you’re in the clear just because your results fall in the normal range. Depending on the test, it’s quite possible that you could be on the border of normal and too high or too low. If this is the case, you should still be closely supervised. If you had the blood work done to test diseases related to hormone levels or diabetes and you are on the border of being abnormal, you should continue to keep in contact with your doctor to make sure the disease doesn’t progress. Understanding blood test results can not only help you identify if you have any diseases, but you can also learn how to prevent others from occurring.

  3. Use the Web to help. Of course, the first place you’ll most likely turn to get help reading blood test results is your doctor. If you want additional information, or are waiting to hear back from your doctor, why not search the Internet in the meantime? To help you find valuable and usable information, search with the name of the blood test. By looking for the specific test, you should be able to find helpful information about what the lows and highs mean for that test.

    Of course, you still have to be careful to only check reputable medical web sites and always ask your doctor first before changing anything that can affect your health. Some may think that you’re self-treating the disease by following information from the Internet, but in reality, you’re just researching the ailment so that you can better understand the situation. Doctors often only have enough time to treat you and can’t always discuss your disease in detail. If you, like many patients, want to know about your illness, the Internet may be your best alternative.

  4. Don’t be afraid to request a test. If you have a feeling that you need a certain blood test done, ask your doctor. The more knowledgeable you are the better off you’ll be. If you suspect something is wrong, tell your doctor about your concerns and why a blood test may be needed. Your doctor is a professional, but she’s not able to see you every day and may not be aware of your symptoms unless you tell her.

    This is where Internet research can be helpful. You may be able to suggest some symptoms to your doctor and what illnesses you think they may represent. Hopefully your doctor is open to hearing your input. If not, you may want to consider getting a second opinion on the matter. You should always feel as though you have a say in your health and treatment.

One of the best diagnostic tools out there is the blood test. It’s important to actually get a blood test done, and equally important to know how to read lab results. If you and your doctor are able to read the results, you can help the doctor determine the ailment and treat the issue.


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