Although we normally don’t give enough importance to them, 70% of medical decisions are based on lab results. Laboratory tests are done by taking a sample of your blood, urine, or body tissue. A technician or your doctor analyzes the test samples to see if your results fall within the normal range.
Factors Affecting Results
The tests use a range, because a result that is considered normal differs from person to person. Many factors affect test results.
Factors that can affect lab results:
– Person’s gender, age and race
– Medicines Prescribed
– Smoking/Alcohol/Drugs related habits
– Exercise routine
– Biological factors
– Behavioral factors
– Pre-test instructions
Frequency Of Lab Tests
We usually don’t know when we are due for certain health screenings. At what age shall we regularly visit a physician? More than 80% people are reluctant to visit a doctor let a alone opt for lab tests. During sickness, doctors advise certain tests but otherwise we don’t get them done. So once you turn 35, its good for you to get your basic lab tests done.
For women specially, it is good to keep a check on your hemoglobin level, calcium, vitamin D level and hormone levels. Most of the diseases are age related and usually they tend to occur after a certain age and should be kept in check via regular lab tests.
Once a month you should opt for your breast and skin examination. Look for any lumps, scarring, rash, or a new mole. Just remember your ABCDEs: asymmetry, border irregularity, un-even color, diameter bigger than 6 mm, and evolving shape and size.
It’s good to get your teeth checked once every six months. Teeth are one of the most important parts and once there’s a problem, the treatment is difficult and painful.
Full Physical Examination
Once a year. Record your height, weight, blood pressure and basic blood tests. These may include tests for blood sugar, blood count, hormone levels, and other crucial markers.
For women aged 21-29 years, any mild irregularities in the Pap test will prompt an HPV test to check for the high-risk strains of the HPV virus. Other than that, you probably won’t need an HPV test until you’re 30 but then you should repeat screening every three months.
For women it’s important to visit your OB/GYN annually for a routine pelvic exam to check for fibroids, cysts, or any pain or swelling that might indicate an infection.
Cholesterol, Triglycerides, Liver Function Tests, Renal Function Tests and Blood Count
Your doctor will want to check these at least once in your twenties and once in your thirties.
After you reach 35 years of age.
Routine diabetes screenings (which involve a blood sugar test) start at age 40 and should be conducted once every three years.
Reasons for Ordering a Laboratory Test
There are 4 major reasons for ordering a laboratory test:
– Diagnosis (to rule in or rule out a disease).
– Monitoring (e.g. the effect of drug therapy).
– Screening (e.g. Hepatitis screening, HIV screening)
– Research (to understand the pathophysiology of a particular disease process).