Laboratory tests are conducted to better assess one’s health status. A blood test is an example of a laboratory test that is done to determine sugar level in the blood, if one has an infection, deficiencies, etc.
All hospitals and clinics that have laboratories can conduct a blood test. Blood is extracted from the patient by piercing a surgical needle to the veins, normally in the arms. The extracted blood is placed on a clear tube and properly labeled for analysis. Ideally, a person who will undergo blood test should observe fasting for at least 3 hours before the blood extraction.
It can take an hour or less to get the blood lab test result. A normal individual will not be able to easily interpret and understand the lab findings. That is why a doctor is consulted to read it. But if you want to be able to understand it yourself, read the guidelines below.
- Glucose. The Glucose result from your test is the amount of sugar level in your blood. Check the range in the test result if you are within range. If the count is too high, it means you have eaten before the test or you may have diabetes.
- Electrolytes. Electrolytes are the levels of your sodium, chloride, potassium, and CO2. Sodium level is depicted by the status of your kidney and adrenal glands. Low sodium is common amongst people with diuretic usage, diabetes drugs, and excess water intake for those with heart or liver disease. The kidney also controls potassium level. Any value outside of the ideal range should be consulted and evaluated by a doctor, as potassium plays a vital role in proper functioning of the nerves and muscles, including the heart. Lastly, CO2 shows the amount of acid in your blood.
- White Blood Count. Also known simply as WBC, this tells the number of white blood cells in the blood. A higher WBC than what is in the expected range can be a sign of infection. On the other hand, a low WBC can be a sign of enlarged spleen or a bone marrow disease.
- Hemoglobin and Hematocrit. The amount of oxygen carrying protein in the red blood cells is known as hemoglobin. Hematocrit is the percentage volume occupied by the red blood cells or RBC. In most blood lab test, the hemoglobin is measured. A low reading based on the range may suggest anemia. While a high reading may be a result of a lung disease.
- Platelet Count. Platelets clot holes in the blood vessel to stop bleeding. A low value can be due to infection. A high count can be due to smoking or excessive production of the bone marrow.
Other readings may be provided in your blood test result. You doctor may have requested for additional tests or may have asked the laboratory technician to focus only on specific items.
Remember, several factors can affect the lab results, such as age, height, weight, etc. Do not self-diagnose. Ask a doctor to read the test results for better interpretation and guidance.