Common Blood Tests and What They Can Tell You

A phlebotomist holds a tray of test tubes from a CBC blood test

Blood work is an important part of monitoring and managing your overall health. Blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Common tests to monitor and measure each of these can provide information about your immune system, metabolism, and can help identify early warning signs for certain diseases and illnesses. Some of the most frequently used blood tests can give you a lot of information about the state of your health. Below are some of the most common blood tests performed as part of your routine blood work, and what the results mean.

CBC test

A complete blood count, or CBC, is a common blood test that measures different components in your blood. It includes a number of tests to measure and assess your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The idea of a complete blood count is to get an overview of many aspects of your blood health, which can give a large amount of information about your overall health. The tests below are some of the most common in a complete blood count.

MCV test

An MCV blood test is a Mean Corpuscular Volume blood test. In other words, it measures the size of your red blood cells. In blood tests, red blood cells are often referred to as RBCs. If your red blood cells are smaller than normal, it could mean that you are iron deficient or are suffering from anemia. If your red blood cells are larger than normal, it could mean that you are deficient in folic acid or vitamin B12. It is also a warning sign for liver disease and hypothyroidism. Your doctor will be able to interpret your results and offer a diagnosis based on your MCV results. The normal range for a healthy adult is from 80 to 96 femtoliters per cell.

MPV test

An MPV (Mean Platelet Volume) blood test measures the average size of your blood platelets. Platelets are cells that exist in blood to form clots when necessary. This can be to heal a cut or wound, or to repair a broken blood vessel. When you have too few platelets, you may bruise easily or have frequent nose bleeds. Too few platelets means that your body is not producing enough. This can be due to several reasons, including medications, an excess of alcohol consumption, a kidney infection, some cancers, or chemotherapy. But, when you have too many platelets, this can cause unwanted blood clots. The reason for having too many platelets could be unknown, or it could be related to an existing health condition like anemia, cancer, or infection. In a healthy adult, the average level should measure between 150,000 and 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood.

MCH test

The MCH blood test measures the average amount of hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin in a protein which transports oxygen around your body. For a healthy adult, the regular measurement for an MCH test falls between 27.5 and 33.2 picograms. If your results are lower than this, it means you are lacking in hemogloblin. A lack of hemoglobin could be the result of anemia, or blood loss from surgery or other means. In contrast, you can also have too much hemoglobin. One of the most common causes of high MCV value is a diet lacking in vitamin b12 and folate.

WCB test

A WBC count refers to measuring the amount of white blood cells in your blood. White blood cells are integral to your immune function. They are also associated with allergic reactions, and inflammation. If your white blood cell count is too high, it could mean that your body’s immune system is trying to fight something off. A higher than normal count could point to to infection, inflammation, allergies, or in some cases leukemia. On the other hand, if you have a lower than expected white blood cell count, it can indicate different health concerns. Some of the most common reasons for a low white blood cell count are autoimmune issues, sepsis, HIV, dietary deficiencies, bone marrow disorders, or lymphoma. In healthy adults, the normal levels of white blood cells range between 4,500 and 11,000 WBCs per microliter of blood.

EST test

When an ESR is part of your blood test, it is measuring how quickly your red blood cells will settle in a test tube. ESR stands for erythrocyte sedimentation rate. This test is less specified than other metrics available, but can still provide useful results. When red blood cells settle to the bottom of blood plasma more quickly than normal, it indicates inflammation in the body. This is because it points to a higher level of certain proteins that are present when the body responds to inflammation. If your doctor or healthcare practitioner suspects that you may be experiencing inflammation, the ESR blood test gives a clear answer. Because it is not as specific as other tests, further testing is often ordered if the ESR test indicates inflammation.

TST test

A TSH test measures the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone in your blood. Normal levels for your thyroid stimulating hormone should fall between 0.4 and 5.0 milliliters per litre. Because this hormone is required for healthy thyroid functioning, unusual levels give clues about potential thyroid issues. If there is too much TSH, it may mean that your thyroid is under-performing and causing hypothyroidism. If there is not enough TSH, it may mean that your thyroid is over-performing and causing hyperthyroidism. By measuring and monitoring your TSH levels, your doctor can learn why your thyroid may not be properly functioning. Click here to read more about TSH tests and thyroid health.

The bottom line

Though these blood tests are among the most common, there are many tests available on the market. Blood tests can diagnose ailments, monitor issues, and provide invaluable information about the health of our bodies. With over 3,500 tests available, Your Health Lab is proud to provide patients with the best diagnostics for almost any test you might need. Speak to your doctor or healthcare provider to decide which is right for you.


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