How to Read Your Blood Test

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Routine blood work is your doctor’s best roadmap for understanding your current health. These routine tests give your doctors a full picture of what’s happening inside your body, and can help pinpoint all kinds of health conditions, from dehydration to acute diseases.

Physicians can also use them to predict your risk for future problems — including heart disease, autoimmune disorders and even cancer. Armed with this information, you can work together to create a wellness plan that decreases your risk and improves your overall quality of life.

A Breakdown of Your Blood Test

Understanding what doctors are looking for in your routine blood tests can help you feel empowered about your next test. Here’s a basic breakdown:

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

A CBC measures the amount of the three major types of blood cells in your body – white blood cells (WBC), red blood cells (RBC) and platelets.

White blood cells (WBC) make up your immune system. These little warriors protect you against germs, infections and diseases every day. Normal WBC counts range between 4,000 p/µlto 11,000 p/µlfor adults. A high WBC count can indicate an infection or trauma, while a low WBC count can predict viral and bacterial infections.

Red blood cells (RBC) carry oxygen through your body. You depend on these cells specifically to create healthy tissues. Differences in the shape and quantity of RBCs can impact your overall health in many ways. Although abnormal levels of red blood cells can’t detect certain diseases, they can offer guidance when it comes to additional testing.

Platelet counts tell us how well our blood clots and how many platelets we have in our body. Whenever you skin your knee or cut yourself on broken glass, platelet cells come to the rescue to thicken our blood and form scabs. Normal platelet counts range between 150,000 p/µl to 450,000 p/µl. Abnormal platelet scores can indicate how your body responds to trauma or injuries and can put you at risk for blood clots.

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)

This collection of tests measures the health of your kidneys and liver. They also monitor the amount of glucose, fluids and electrolytes in your body. The 14 tests that usually make up this panel can detect a variety of issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and nutritional deficiencies.

Your immune system depends on a balance of all these different factors to stay whole and healthy.

Lipid Panel

A lipid panel measures the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides (fats) in our blood. The two common types of cholesterol – HDL and LDL – can affect your health in a number of ways.

HDL (good) cholesterol can protect us against heart disease. A result of about 150 mg/dL is considered normal.

LDL (bad) cholesterol can clog your arteries and cause serious conditions like heart attacks and strokes. A score over 200 mg/dL may mean you’re at risk.

Triglycerides are fat cells we store in our body. Like LDL cholesterol, they can cause serious heart conditions without treatment.

Simple changes to your diet and lifestyle will go a long way in getting those lipid levels under control. Talk with your doctor about what you can do to stay heart-healthy.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test(TSH)

A little organ that sits at the bottom of your brain, called the pituitary gland, produces a hormone that controls your thyroid. Higher test results may indicate hypothyroidism, a condition that happens as a result of your thyroid not making enough hormones. Lower test results may suggest that you have hyperthyroidism, a condition where your thyroid is producing too many hormones.

Many medications can help control abnormal TSH levels. Your doctor will work with you to balance out those hormones and restore your well-being.

Blood Glucose Test

This common test calculates the amount of glucose – or sugar – in your body. Glucose levels over 100 mg/dL may indicate your risk of developing diabetes. However, if your results do come back high, don’t panic. Sometimes your body has not digested everything in your stomach. Your doctor will likely ask you to repeat the test before considering your blood sugar an issue.

Lean on Your Doctor for Help

Blood work is part of routine physicals for a reason – it can help give you peace of mind and power over your health conditions. Working with your doctor to understand your lab results and make a plan for your future can put you on the right path to whole health.

You can also prepare for your next lab test by creating an online account through our AdventHealth app. There, you’ll be able to receive your lab results quicker. Learn more and download the app here.

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