How often should I get blood work done? What determines if I should get it done? Get answers to the most asked questions about routine blood work.
Blood can tell you about your organ function, diet, metabolism, illnesses, and if you have certain diseases. It can tell you hundreds of things about your lifestyle and habits. That’s why doctors encourage their patients to get routine blood work done.
By analyzing the blood, scientists can detect illnesses before it’s too late. Or, they can explain why you’ve been “feeling off” for the last few months.
Getting blood taken can be scary for those who’ve never done it, especially children. You likely have lots of questions about the process and results.
Here, we’ll answer all your questions about getting blood taken. Keep reading for everything you need to know about blood tests.
What is Routine Blood Testing?
A routine blood test consists of getting blood taken at your doctor’s office or at a lab. Usually, the technician, nurse, or doctor will have you sit down on a chair with your feet on the ground.
They will use an antibacterial wipe to cleanse the part of your arm where they’ll draw blood. This is often inside your forearm where the veins are visible. But, they can take it from any vein.
Before inserting the needle, they’ll ask you to squeeze your fist. Or, they’ll tie an elastic band around the top of your arm. Both strategies help your arm’s veins bulge which makes them easier to find.
Then, a needle attached to a test tube is inserted. When the tube is full, they’ll remove the needle. In some cases, they may need to collect more than one tube before taking out the needle.
This might seem scary, but it’s quite straightforward. Often you’re done in less than five minutes.
What Can Blood Tests Detect?
The reasons for getting your blood tested vary. In a routine blood test, it might just be to check that nothing has changed since your last healthy test result.
Here are some of the typical blood tests your doctor may request.
1. Complete Blood Count (CBC)
This routine blood test measures the cells in the body through the blood. They test the blood for white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelets.
CBC tests can detect if you have anemia, nutritional deficiencies, an infection, cancer, and bone marrow problems.
If any of these results come back as abnormal, your doctor may order more specific testing.
2. Basil Metabolic Panel (BMP)
This blood test measures certain components of the blood. For example, glucose, sodium, potassium, electrolytes, and creatinine.
By checking these factors, doctors can tell if you have kidney disease or diabetes. The results may also indicate a hormonal imbalance.
3. Complete Metabolic Panel (CMP)
This test measures the same elements as the Basil Metabolic Panel as well as some other important components. These include alkaline phosphate (ALP), albumin, bilirubin, and more.
When these other components are imbalanced, there could be a serious problem. Too much ALP could signify hepatitis, gallstones, or Paget’s disease.
Too much bilirubin could indicate a bile duct blockage, hepatitis, Gilbert’s syndrome, or hemolysis.
4. Lipid Panel
As the name suggests, a Lipid Panel measures the amount of fat in your blood. More specifically, it measures good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL).
If your LDL levels are high, that could indicate a plaque build-up in your arteries. This is a sign of future or present heart disease.
How Often Should You Get Routine Blood Work Done?
For routine blood work when no health issues are present, your doctor will likely request one once a year. This is often done at the same time as your annual physical.
The purpose of this test is to ensure your levels are still healthy. If something comes back abnormal, your doctor will want to investigate further.
But, if they come back normal, you’re good until next year.
For some blood tests, you’ll get the results shortly after. Others, you have to wait.
In general, you’ll get the results for a CBC, BMC, and CMP within 24 hours. For a Lipids Panel, it could be closer to 72 hours.
But, just because you have the results data doesn’t mean you personally know the results. Often, you need your doctor to translate what the data says for your health. That depends on when your next appointment is after the results are in.
What About Fasting?
Some blood tests require you to fast 8-12 hours beforehand. Often, you can only consume water.
The reason for fasting is that eating can dramatically alter the chemicals in your blood. It can affect your cholesterol levels, glucose levels, and more.
Expect to be required to fast for cholesterol tests, glucose tests, blood sugar tests, and BMPs.
Where Should I Go for Blood Testing?
When your doctor orders a blood test, you can take the request to your nearest lab. Blood labs operate privately and do everything on site.
That means you get blood drawn in the same location as the blood analysis.
Sometimes, you’ll get called when the results are ready for you to pick up. Then, you’ll need to take them to your doctor. Other times, the lab will send the results directly to your doctor for you.
When choosing a lab, find a location that has good online reviews. Your doctor may recommend one or your friends and family could recommend one.
Ultimately, you want to choose a lab that has a good reputation. The technicians should be knowledgeable and friendly.
Do You Need to Get Routine Blood Tests Done?
If you have upcoming routine blood work, don’t worry. It’s rarely as stressful as you think it’ll be. Often, you’re done within five minutes, give or take the waiting room time.
Sometimes, the lab will be located in a health center where multiple health services are offered. Consider also getting your eyes examined before or after your blood tests.
Contact us at LaSante Health Center for all your health testing needs.