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Despite where we are now in terms of technology, the human body is still sometimes a mystery for doctors. It may be easy to spot signs when something isn’t quite right, but it’s not always easy to tell what that something is or what’s causing it.
This is just one of the reasons why your doctor may send blood or other specimens to a medical laboratory in Los Angeles.
The tests performed are meant to provide important clues to your doctor to let them know what’s going on within your body. Having these answers can help your doctor determine what needs to be done to keep everything working properly within your cells, bloodstream, organs, bones, joints, and muscles.
Getting a General Idea of What’s Going On
A complete blood count (CBC) is the most common type of lab test performed at most medical labs. A CBC is typically ordered to evaluate your overall health or help make a diagnosis. It involves an examination of multiple components of blood, including:
- White blood cells (often indicates where an infection is)
- Red blood cells
- Hemoglobin (protein in blood)
- Platelets (assist with clotting)
- Hematocrit (ratio of red blood cells to total blood volume)
A urinalysis can also help diagnose conditions or monitor existing conditions. It’s also used to confirm a pregnancy, identify a urinary tract infection (UTI), check for the presence of certain substance, as what may be evaluated during random drug testing, and determine how well specific internal organs are functioning, especially your kidneys. Additional tests that may give you doctor clues about what’s going on within your body include:
- Coagulation tests (to determine clotting abilities)
- Endocrinology tests (to check for gland disorders)
- Immunology tests (to identify autoimmune diseases)
Seeing if Treatment Plans Are Working
The only way to confirm that treatments involving some type of medication are working is to perform one or more blood tests. For instance, a hemoglobin A1C test is often used to monitor patients who are diabetic or to evaluate those who may be considered pre-diabetic.
Screening for Various Conditions
Many tests that can be performed at a medical lab are meant to determine if certain patients have levels of “bad” cholesterol or other issues with their blood that may increase the risk of developing a serious medical problem. A lipid panel, for instance, is often recommended to identify potential risk factors for heart disease that can’t be identified with a typical physical examination.
Fasting Before Having a Blood Test
It’s not unusual for your doctor to instruct you not eat or drink anything (except water) within a specific period of time prior to having a sample taken that will be sent to a medical laboratory in Los Angeles. Referred to as fasting, this action is sometimes required so that levels of sugar and cholesterol in blood won’t be affected by what you eat.
If a non-fasting level is high, it can be hard to tell if something is wrong since what you had to eat or drink may be impacting the results. If a fasting level is high, it usually means something is wrong. Doctors often use results from samples taken after fasting to:
- Adjust doses of current medications
- Determine if different medications will be more appropriate
- Decide whether or not to take a patient off of certain medications
- Determine if further testing is necessary
Clearly Presenting Results
Whether your doctor has ordered a routine hematology test, a nasal culture to identify a virus, or a comprehensive metabolic panel, results need to be clearly presented. Generally, lab results may be positive, negative, or inconclusive. The trained staff at a medical lab will take the information gathered from various tests and present those stats in a report that will typically:
- Document levels of various substances in blood, urine, or other samples
- Identify any abnormalities
- Determine if a positive determination can be made based on the reason for the test (e.g., confirmation of a disease, virus, or bacteria strain)
There are many possible reasons why samples may be sent to a medical laboratory in Los Angeles. In some cases, it’s to allow your doctor to make a more thorough diagnosis. Other times it’s to monitor an existing condition such as cancer or diabetes. Regardless of the reason for having samples analyzed, the answers provided can offer much-appreciated peace of mind or take some of the uncertainty out of not knowing what’s going on within the complex machine that is the human body. By turning to a trusted medical laboratory in Los Angeles, you can feel confident that those answers will as accurate and detailed as possible.