At some point in your life, you will go to the doctor for either a check-up or you are feeling sick. No matter what the reason, blood work may have to be obtained in order to evaluate your condition. However, most people get their blood drawn and have absolutely no idea what is being tested or why.
On a number of occasions, I have ordered lab work on a patient, only to be told “I had my blood work done, and everything was normal.” Uhm, nope. That is not always the case.
Here are some myths and misunderstandings that people have about blood work:
1) When my doctor draws blood, I’m being tested for everything: FALSE.
There are hundreds of different tests that can be processed with your blood. Your doctor is only going to order tests specific to you and your condition. In other words, if you go to the doctor with flu symptoms, they are probably not going to check your cholesterol level. That would be similar to getting a prescription for eardrops and you actually have a urinary tract infection – it is unnecessary.
2) The office called with my results and said everything was normal, so I’m 100% healthy. – Sorry, that’s FALSE.
If your results are normal, then only THOSE RESULTS are normal. There are so
many available laboratory tests and it is important for you to know what your doctor is testing you for along with the results.
3) The doctor's office did not call, so my lab results are fine. – Utterly FALSE.
Every office has a different notification policy regarding lab results. It is important that you know what your doctor’s office policy is. Actually, you should make it a habit to follow-up regarding your blood work results if you have not been notified two weeks following your visit.
4) I saw the results and one of my tests was 2 points above the normal range – there must be a problem! - FALSE
Every lab has different ranges for the normal values. In addition, every person has his or her own normal or baseline range. With some test, a result that falls a few points higher or lower than the acceptable range does not always indicate a disease or problem. Certain types of food, beverages, or even medications could result or contribute to a lab value being temporarily abnormal.
5) I don’t feel sick, so it is not necessary for me to get the recommended blood test.
– FALSE, FALSE, and triple FALSE.
Blood tests can help monitor how well your body is working before you have symptoms. As a matter of fact, it is very important to get recommended laboratory tests as a preventive measure. A measurement of your cholesterol is great in preventing cardiovascular injury – if you don’t check it regularly, your first symptom may be a heart attack.
QUICK NOTE: Just because you got your blood drawn, doesn’t mean you were tested for everything.
Having blood tests and trying to interpret the results can be pretty frustrating for some people. However, it is important that you understand the basics of the test. Make sure you ask your healthcare provider, “What am I being tested for and why? After they give an answer, then you can go through your results together.