Looking At Blood Tests

When you go to a doctor for a check-up she may well ask you to have a battery of blood tests. This doesn't necessarily mean she thinks you are seriously ill. Many practitioners like to give a series of blood tests to all new patients so they can set a base line for you and to see if you have any underlying condition that your previous physician didn't spot. If you have an annual check-up, for insurance or work purposes, your doctor will probably also run a lot blood tests so he can give you the all-clear.

What Do The Results Mean?

It can be very confusing to look at your results and be faced with a series of initials. What do they all mean anyway? One of the most basic tests is a CBC.

What is a CBC?  CBC stands for complete blood count, and includes

a WBC, which is a white blood cell count, and a high or low level outside of the normal range can indicate infection.

The DIFF shows the percentage of different white blood cells in the blood, compared to the total WBC

a HB or HGB, which is your hemoglobin level and shows the amount of oxygen carrying protein within the red blood cells.

a HCT, which is a hemacrit or crit for short and shows what percentage of the blood contains red blood cells. Both of these indicate the amount of iron in the blood and if either of these are low it is often a sign of anemia.

a RBC is a red blood cell count

MCV stands for Mean Corpuscular Volume and also can indicate anemia. The last test is usually a platelet count, or PLT. This test shows how easily your blood clots.

What Does ‘Normal Range' Mean?

Most blood test results show where your reading fits in the normal range. Blood testing labs set the ‘normal range' of results so that 95% of healthy patients fall within this range. However this still means that you can be healthy and fall outside this range. If your reading is more to the upper or lower edge of the scale, or falls outside it, your physician will let you know whether this is significant or not. If you have blood tests regularly you will soon learn what is ‘normal' for you.

Why More Tests?

Sometimes your physician will want to run further tests to help with diagnosis. If you go to the doctor with symptoms that could be several diseases, blood tests will help him to diagnose your illness.

If for example you go to the doctor complaining of fatigue and swollen glands and your results come back showing you have atypical lymphocytes or ATL, your practitioner will want to run a mono spot test to see if you have mono.

If you have mono you have found the right place to learn all about it. Check out the rest of our site for more information about this condition!

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