Routine blood tests are an excellent way to help your doctor assess and monitor the inner workings of your many body systems. They can lead to better diagnosis, treatment, and health maintenance. If you’re not familiar with what routine blood tests are or how they can be beneficial, we answer some frequently asked questions below.
What happens at a routine blood test?
A routine blood test is a relatively fast and stress-free procedure, with the appointment time usually clocking in at 5-10 minutes in total. A blood draw or venipuncture is carried out by a phlebotomy technician, who is specifically trained to draw blood and prepare the samples for testing. The technician will first sanitize their hands and apply gloves, then apply a tourniquet to the arm of the patient to help identify an appropriate vein to draw from. They will then sanitize the arm with an alcohol wipe before inserting a small needle into the targeted vein. Once the blood has been drawn (which usually only takes about one minute), the needle and tourniquet will be removed, and gentle pressure will be applied to the area of needle insertion.
How can I prepare for a blood test?
Depending on the type of test that your doctor has ordered, you could have different requirements. Be sure to review information in advance. Often, it is good to drink plenty of water before your test as dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure, dizziness, or fainting.
What about fasting?
For certain tests, you may be asked to fast for a specific amount of time. Fasting means that you do not consume any food or liquids except water during the hours that you are supposed to be fasting. If you are not asked to fast before the test, it is good to eat breakfast that morning to ensure your blood sugar levels don’t dip and cause you to feel lightheaded. If you feel nervous, you can prepare for the blood draw by calming your breathing and taking slow, deep inhales and exhales, or reading up on our tips for relaxing before and during a blood draw. Finally, communicate with your phlebotomist any concerns you have as they are trained to guide you through the procedure and ensure that you get the best possible care.
What should I do after a blood test?
Once your blood draw is complete, stay seated until you feel relaxed and OK to stand up. Even then, stand up slowly in case you experience any dizziness. Keep pressure on the area where the needle was inserted for a few minutes, which will help reduce any bruising. Although some bruising is normal, it may be accompanied by mild soreness. If this is the case, you can use a cold compress or ice to alleviate the discomfort. Once you’ve completed the test, it’s also a good idea to drink hydrating fluids and eat a snack. Keep the bandage that the phlebotomist applied to your arm in place for at least an hour before removing it.
What are the benefits of routine blood tests?
Routine blood work is an important component of taking care of your overall health. A blood test can tell you about your metabolism, provide information about organ function, and even help identify early warning signs for certain diseases and illnesses. Routine bloodwork can also show if any medications you are taking are working properly, if you’re at risk of developing heart disease, and how well your blood is clotting. Using the information in your results, you doctor can also see a large amount of data about your lifestyle and habits.
The benefits of blood test analysis
After analyzing the results of your test, your doctor may order further, more specific tests to help pinpoint and assess your case. They can then craft a treatment plan for any potential health issues that could be present. They may also suggest certain actions or lifestyle changes that could help improve your overall health based on the information that was revealed in your test.
What can routine bloodwork detect?
There are many specific blood tests available, but the most common test for routine blood work is a CBC or Complete Blood Count test. This test can help detect:
Blood disorders including Anemia and Thalassemia
A bone marrow disorder
Improper blood clotting (too much or too little)
A BMP or basic metabolic panel is also common, and consists of a group of tests that can help detect:
Diabetes or signs of diabetes
Another common test is a lipoprotein panel, which can help your doctor assess your risk factor for coronary heart disease. This test gives information specifically about LDL cholesterol (which causes blockages in the arteries) and HDL cholesterol (which helps decrease blockages in the arteries). It also measures total cholesterol, and triglycerides (a type of fat in blood).
Enzyme and protein blood tests can provide information on a vast number of different specific areas of concern. There are tests that specifically help assess:
Heart damage and risk
Progressive muscular dystrophy
And other various illnesses and injuries
How often should I get a blood test?
Yearly blood work is a good schedule for individuals with no major underlying health issues. However, different factors may contribute to a different treatment plan from your doctor. If you have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, heart-failure, or other circumstances that require more monitoring, having certain tests more frequently can help you better manage your health. You can also have bloodwork done more frequently if you want to stay on top of any potential warning signs for diseases. It’s also helpful if you’re having symptoms without a clear diagnosis. Finally, you may want to use the information from blood tests to adjust your lifestyle for optimal health.
Where can I get a blood test?
Blood tests take place at a laboratory that your doctor recommends or refers you to. For quicker results, you should request to have your test done at a lab that provides web-based results. Other considerations are whether your insurance covers your test, or whether the lab offers Reference Lab services.
With fast turnaround, online results, and in-network coverage, Your Health Lab makes routine blood work convenient and easy. Contact us, or check in with your doctor about booking an appointment today.