July 18, 2022
When you’re sick, the physical signs and symptoms only provide the doctor with a small fraction of the information they need to accurately diagnose you. To get a better understanding of what’s going on, doctors rely on blood tests to gain deeper insights into what’s actually going on in your body.
There are thousands of blood tests available, all of which measure and analyze different aspects of your blood, organ systems, chemical balance, hormone levels, and more. However, some blood tests are more common than others.
Here are 10 common blood tests that you’ve likely received at some point in your healthcare journey.
A complete blood count (CBC) test is one of the most common blood tests performed - and for good reason. Your blood cells contain a lot of valuable information relating to your overall health. Testing the number and type of cells in your body, like red and white blood cells and platelets, let doctors know if you have a balanced diet, helps screen for disorders, and determine your general health status.
For example, if your white blood count is low, it could indicate that you’re prone to infections. If you feel fatigued, it could indicate that you have low hemoglobin levels. A CBC test can also help diagnose conditions like malaria, anemia, leukemia, and more.
A basic metabolic panel (BMP) is generally included as part of any routine health exam. A BMP test measures eight different substances in your blood, including: glucose, calcium, sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide, chloride, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine. Measuring these substances helps determine blood sugar levels, evaluate kidney function, as well as check the level of electrolyte and fluid balance.
A BMP test is useful because it allows doctors to monitor the effects of medication, diagnose certain conditions, and determine if your metabolism is functioning properly.
A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a more comprehensive evaluation of metabolic functions, with a stronger focus on organ systems. It measures the same eight substances as a BMP test, but also includes six additional substances, including: albumin, total protein, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and bilirubin.
A CMP is also useful for monitoring your liver and kidney health and for diagnosing health conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure), liver disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. On top of that, a CMP also measures your levels of protein, potassium, sodium, and glucose levels.
A lipid panel test measures your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Because these markers are strongly related to heart disease, doctors use a lipid panel test to determine a general health status of your heart. In short, doctors want to make sure your levels of good cholesterol (HDL) are high and your levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides are low.
If you are at a higher risk of heart disease, a lipid panel test is an excellent way to monitor and track your heart health. If you want to learn more about lipid panel tests, we dive deeper into the topic in another blog post here.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world. In fact, it affects roughly 4 to 5 million Americans. Iron is an essential element for blood production and aids in the formation of hemoglobin myoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen, while myoglobin carries and stores oxygen in your muscles.
Iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia, a condition that can make you feel weak and tired. Alternatively, too much iron can be extremely toxic to your body and cause fatal damage to the liver or brain. That’s why it’s so important to check your iron and ferritin (the protein that helps store iron in the body) regularly.
Fun fact: Cooking with cast iron may help raise the levels of iron in your blood. However, it’s not enough to treat or prevent iron deficiency.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid has a profound effect on regulating everything from your body’s temperature, heart rate, to your metabolism. If your healthcare provider suspects that your thyroid gland is unable to make the right amount of hormones and you have a thyroid disorder, they will order a TSH test.
If you have elevated TSH or a low TSH value, your thyroid gland may be producing too much of the hormone thyroxine. This can cause hyperthyroidism. Alternatively, if your thyroid gland produces too little thyroxine, this can cause hypothyroidism.
If you want to learn more about a TSH blood test, what to expect, and what the test results mean, we covered the topic in another blog post that you can check out here.
A C-reactive protein (CPR) test measures the amount of CPR in your blood. CPR is a type of protein associated with inflammation and is a good indicator of an infection. When your body is fighting an infection, the liver will release CPR into the bloodstream to help organize the body’s defenses.
Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis also cause high levels of inflammation. Doctors will use a CPR test to monitor levels of CPR to determine if medication is working.
We cover C-reactive proteins in depth here in another blog post.
This measures the amount of cardiac biomarkers in your blood, which include enzymes, proteins, and hormones. After you’ve had a heart attack or when your heart is under severe stress due to lack of oxygen, cardiac biomarkers will show up in your blood. Doctors will use this test to gauge the size of a heart attack and how seriously your heart was affected.
Your doctor will typically order this test if you recently had a heart attack or are displaying symptoms of coronary artery blockage.
Sexual health is an important part of your overall health. Which is why, if you’re sexually active, getting tested regularly should be part of any health screen. Fortunately, many sexually transmitted infections (STI) can be detected via a blood sample.
A few common STIs that blood tests can uncover are:
Receiving accurate results from your STI blood test is also important. We’ve provided tips and instructions on how to get the most accurate results from your at-home STD test here.
If you experience fatigue, lower back pain, muscle aches, digestive issues, obesity, mood swings, and weakened immune systems, it might be time to step out into the sun. These are all symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, and it’s especially common here in the United States. Depleted levels of vitamin D are typically associated with living an unhealthy lifestyle or suffering from chronic health issues. Fortunately, you get vitamin D from exposure to the sun, certain foods, and supplements. However, it’s important to monitor the levels of vitamin D in your blood, as too high of levels can be toxic.
These are just 10 of the most common blood tests available, but there are plenty more available that can diagnose and monitor all aspects of your health. With over 5,000 different lab tests available, Getlabs enables you to book a nearby phlebotomist for many of the tests your doctor may recommend.
If you have questions about how it works, go to getlabs.com/faqs to learn more.
This page is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute the provision of medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice regarding any of the tests and conditions referenced above are advised to consult with a licensed clinician. Always seek the advice of your qualified health provider regarding a medical condition and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information on this page. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or go to the nearest urgent care center or hospital.
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