Since 2003, Paul has been an inpatient five times at hospitals in Thailand. All of his stays have been at international hospitals.
Before the age of 47, I had very infrequent blood tests. This condition changed after I was diagnosed with hypertension in 1991. At that time, I started getting blood tests annually.
Then, in January 1999, an annual blood test indicated that I was at risk for prostate cancer. Blood tests now came every nine months.
Since April 2015, after my left cancerous kidney was removed, I have had semiannual blood tests.
Based on a lifetime of personal experiences, in this article, I share what to expect from blood test results.
Why Blood Is Important for the Body
The human body can not live without blood. This is due to three primary reasons. First, red blood cells carry oxygen to all cells of the body. Second, white blood cells fight infection in our body and work to keep us healthy. Third, the blood carries nourishment in the form of glucose and other essential chemicals to all cells of the body.
Is It Important to Get Your Blood Tested?
There are three general reasons why blood test results are important for our health. First, the results aid doctors in evaluating how well organs such as the kidneys, liver, thyroid, and heart are working in the body. Second, blood test results help doctors diagnose diseases and conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, anemia, and coronary heart disease. Third, tests help find out if one has risk factors for heart disease, prostate cancer, and other ailments.
Why Blood Tests Are Important
How Are Blood Tests Conducted?
A blood test is conducted by drawing a vial or vials of blood from patients in a clinic or hospital setting. This is usually done by first inserting a tourniquet on a patient's arm. After a vein is found, a butterfly needle is inserted into the vein, and blood is drawn into the needle's attached tubing. The contents of the tubing are then inserted into a vial labeled with the name of the patient.
How Are Blood Samples Processed?
After blood is collected, the vials containing it are sent to a laboratory for processing and analysis. The first step in processing for many blood tests is separating the plasma from the cellular portion of blood. This is done by spinning the samples in a centrifuge with the result of the plasma liquid part of the blood on the top and the blood cells on the bottom of a test tube. Next, the blood samples are put into a blood analyzer. This equipment generates results quickly both electronically and graphically.
Common Types of Blood Tests
Numerous kinds of blood tests measure everything from testosterone to cardiac enzymes. However, the most common blood test that most people have is the full blood count or the CBC (complete blood count.) As a person ages and encounters medical problems, you can expect to have blood tests that measure biochemistry items, such as liver and kidney function, lipid profile, potassium, percent of HbA1c, FBG, BUN, and CEA. As a male over 45 or 50, a blood test will indicate your PSA level under the category of hormones/tumor markers.
I have had all of these blood tests and share what to expect from the test results in the sections below.
What to Expect from CBC Results
A complete blood count looks at the number, types, and size of cells in the blood. Your blood consists of red blood cells (RBC) that carry oxygen to all cells of the body. White blood cells (WBC) help to fight infection in the body. Platelets help the blood to clot. Hemoglobin is also measured because it is a protein that carries oxygen around the body.
Results for types of WBC and RBC, hemoglobin, and platelets are given numerically per unit with a normal reference range. Results out of the normal reference range are marked with an (L low) or (H high.)
A copy of CBC results is necessary for the diagnosis of infection, anemia, and bleeding or clotting problems. It is also very helpful in explaining tiredness or weakness and showing the body's response to toxic substances and response to treatment.
How to Read Blood Work Results
What to Expect From Biochemistry Type Blood Test Results
Biochemistry type results include numbers for non-panel items such as FBG, ALT/SGPT, the percentage of HbA1c, BUN, and Potassium.
FBG or fasting blood glucose shows how much glucose (sugar) is in your blood after an overnight fast.
The number for ALT/SGPT or alanine amino-transferase is used in checking for liver damage.
The percentage of HbA1c measures the amount of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin.
BUN or the blood urea nitrogen test shows how well the kidneys are working. If the BUN number is too high, it is a sign of kidney or liver problems.
If potassium levels in the blood are abnormal, this can cause kidney problems, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
Liver function tests measure the level of enzymes and protein in the blood. These tests are used to check for hepatitis and the side effects of medication taken.
Kidney function tests measure the creatinine level in the blood to show how the kidneys are functioning. Creatinine is a waste product from the breakdown of muscle tissue. They also measure eGFR which shows how well the kidneys are working in getting rid of creatinine.
A lipid profile measures your cholesterol and triglycerides levels. HDL or high-density lipoprotein is your good cholesterol. LDL or low-density lipoprotein is your bad cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides can lead to stroke or heart disease.
Results for all tests are given numerically per unit with a normal reference range.
Example of My Biochemistry Type Blood Test Results
What to Expect From PSA Blood Test Results
PSA or prostate-specific antigen is a protein produced by the prostate gland. A high level of PSA may show prostate cancer, a noncancerous condition such as prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland,) or an enlarged prostate (BPH.) Numerical results are given in units with a normal reference range of 0-4.
There are many other blood tests that a doctor might order depending on your medical condition. I have not given a detailed explanation of all of my attached results because I am not a doctor. Some of my medical information is taken from Healthline on the internet.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Paul Richard Kuehn
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on November 06, 2018:
Thank you so much for your great comments, Pamela. I am very happy you found this article helpful.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 06, 2018:
This is a good overview of the more common blood tests. I get more than my fair share of blood tests also due to a few different medical problems. I think it is very good to know what any given test is for, so this is a very helpful article.