Common Test Results

Under standing your test results

You just got your test results back and there are a few items that are highlighted in the abnormal column but what does that mean? Do you need to worry? Do you need to contact your doctor or even head to the emergency room?

Welcome to this guide for patients seeking clarity on their blood test results. Understanding your blood test results is crucial for maintaining good health and making informed decisions about your well-being but not every abnormal result is actually a reason for concern and not every "abnormal" result is even abnormal..

In this user-friendly platform, we provide accessible information to help you interpret common abnormalities found in blood tests. Whether you're curious about elevated cholesterol levels, abnormal white blood cell counts, or any other result, we've got you covered. Empower yourself with knowledge and take control of your health journey. Explore our resources and learn how to decipher your blood test results with confidence but remember this is just a general guide to help you prepare any questions you may have for your doctor.  This information is not intended as individual advice. Always discuss any abnormalities with your physician since individual factors will often affect the interpretation of the results.

Common Lab Tests

Why an abnormal result doesn't always mean something is wrong

Understanding abnormal results on common blood tests can be a source of concern for many patients. However, it's important to recognize that not all abnormalities indicate a serious health issue. Here are several reasons why abnormal results on blood tests may not be of immediate concern:

  • Normal Ranges: Normal ranges for blood tests are established based on the average values found in a healthy population. Just as there is a range of heights considered normal in a population, there is also a range of values for various blood parameters. Being outside this range doesn't necessarily signify disease.
  • Individual Variation: Like height, our bodies exhibit natural variation in blood parameters from person to person. What's normal for one individual may be slightly different for another. Therefore, a result slightly outside the normal range may still be perfectly normal for that person.
  • Lab Variability: Even the most reputable labs may have slight variations in their testing methods and equipment. This can lead to small differences in reported values. As a result, what may appear as an abnormal result in one lab could fall within the normal range in another.
  • Biological Fluctuations: Our bodies are dynamic, and various factors such as diet, hydration, stress, and time of day can influence blood test results. For instance, sugar levels can vary depending on recent meals. Testosterone levels vary dramatically depending on time of day. Therefore, a single abnormal result may not accurately reflect a person's overall health status.
  • Temporary Conditions: Certain factors, such as recent illness or injury, can temporarily affect blood test results. For example, an elevated white blood cell count may be indicative of an infection that the body is fighting off but stress or pregnancy as well as a number of other non-infectious conditions can also cause it to go up.
  • Age and Gender Differences: Normal ranges for blood parameters may vary based on factors such as age, gender, and even ethnicity. What's considered normal for a teenager may differ from what's normal for an older adult.
  • Medications and Supplements: Some medications and supplements can influence blood test results. It's essential to inform your healthcare provider about any medications or supplements you're taking to ensure accurate interpretation of your results.

Interpreting test results requires more than reading the numbers. It requires a comprehensive analysis of the whole patient. An elevated white blood count (WBC) could be serious in a 30 year old woman with a fever but it can be completely normal in a healthy 30 year old pregnant woman because pregnancy normally causes a rise in the WBC.  Anemia in the form of a low Hgb (Hemoglobin) can be completely normal in a young woman who is still having her periods but in an older woman or in any man it can be a concerning sign that they have a gastrointestinal bleed and possibly even cancer.

In summary, just as being taller or shorter than average doesn't necessarily indicate a health problem, being outside the normal range on a blood test doesn't always mean there's a disease present. It's crucial to consider individual factors, lab variability, and temporary conditions when interpreting blood test results.  Remember, knowledge is power but it can also be confusing. Understanding your blood test results empowers you to take control of your health but only if you can put those results in proper context. and understand when they require action and when they are OK.

If you have concerns about your results, it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your unique situation.