If you typically see your primary care physician at least once a year like you are advised, then you are on top of your health. This is wise to reduce the chances of a serious illness, like heart disease or cancer, going unnoticed. However, some parts of your yearly check-up may be a mystery to you. This is often true of your yearly blood test. There are some things you should know about blood tests that will help you understand why you really need them every year.
No News Requires No Contact
If you do not hear back from your primary care physician after blood has been taken and tested, then this is a good thing. Physicians do not routinely contact patients if test results come back normal. This does not mean that your doctor did not look at the tests, but it simply means there is nothing to worry about. What exactly does this mean though? This means that your red, white, and hemoglobin counts are within a good range. This helps to rule out things like anemia, cancer, and basic infections. A metabolic test may be run as well. This allows your physician to see if blood sugar, electrolyte, and calcium levels are normal. Abnormal levels may indicate that you have diabetes, kidney disease, or heart disease. Cholesterol will be measured too, to see if you are at risk of a heart attack in the future.
This means that a simple blood test can help to rule out some of the most common major diseases and systematic disorders. In other words, a normal blood test is a fairly good indicator of your overall health. If your physician does not contact you after the blood test is examined, then you can be confident about your overall health.
However, you should keep in mind that bloodwork may change slightly over a period of time. Your physician is unlikely to track minute changes as long as your levels are within a normal range. This mean that you are healthy, but if you do have a serious interest in tracking your own health, then these changes might be important to you. For example, if your cholesterol levels have risen a few points each year, then you may want to think about starting a low-fat diet before cholesterol is specifically considered high.
If you want to start tracking your bloodwork, contact your doctor to discuss the results. Wait at least a few days for the test results to come in from the lab and ask your physician directly about changes that are noted from the previous year.
Positive Or Abnormal Results Do Not Immediately Mean There Is An Issue
If your physician does contact you about your bloodwork because an abnormality was noted, then this does not immediately mean that you have a serious medical condition. For example, if high blood glucose levels were detected, then this does not necessarily mean you have diabetes. Stress and hormone fluctuations can cause the increase. Too many sweets the night before the test or one too many alcoholic drinks can elevate glucose too.
If your blood tests results come back abnormal, then your doctor may ask you to have your blood drawn again right away, or you may be asked to wait several months. This depends on the severity of the abnormality. For example, if your fasting blood sugar level was close to 100, then it is likely close enough to the normal range that another test does not need to be completed right away. However, if the level was 126 or a bit lower, then your doctor will want to see if you have a pre-diabetes condition and another test will be scheduled.
False positive results may be an issue as well. This is likely to occur due to contamination, human error, or a different issue. It is impossible to know if an abnormality is a result of a false positive. This may be the reason for an abnormal blood test, so keep this in mind when you speak with your physician and follow the advice he provides when it comes to retesting practices.
For more information, talk with a primary care physician at a local clinic, such as Rural Health Services Consortium Inc..