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Laboratory Test

What is a laboratory test?

A laboratory (lab) test is a procedure in which a health care provider like us Specialty Care Clinic takes a sample of a client's urine, blood, other bodily fluid, or body tissue to get information about the health. Some of the lab tests are used to diagnose and monitor a specific disease.

Lab tests play an important role in caring for health. But they don't provide a complete picture of the health. Our experts will likely include a physical exam, health history, and other tests and procedures to help guide diagnosis and treatment decisions. A technician or doctor analyzes the test samples to see if the results fall within the normal range.

The tests use a range because what is normal for one person may not be for another person.

What is the need for a lab test?

Lab tests are used in many different ways. The health care providers may order one or more lab tests too

  •    To check for a disease or a health condition.
  •    A screening test to examine the risk level of disease. It can also find out if anyone has a disease, even if there are no symptoms.
  •    Monitor a treatment. If anyone has already been diagnosed with a disease, lab tests can show if the condition is getting better or worse.
  •    To check the overall health. Lab tests are also for a routine checkups.

For any type of lab test, one should prepare for it by using the steps: For many lab tests, patients just need to give answers to the questions put up by the lab professional. But for some other tests, patients need to do some specific preparations before the test.

  •    Following all the instructions given to the health care provider
  •    Tell the lab professional if didn't follow the instructions given by the healthcare provider. Even a minor change from the instructions can have a big effect on the results.
  •    Tell the provider about any medicines, vitamins, or supplements that you are taking.
  •    Fasting is one of the main steps in lab test preparations. Fasting means one should not eat or drink anything except water. This is done because ingredients and nutrients in the food are absorbed into the blood.

Taking the above steps can ensure the results will be accurate and reliable.

Other common test preparations include:

  •    Avoid alcohol and spicy foods.
  •    Do not overeat the day before a test.
  •    No smoking.
  •    Avoid more exercise and sexual activity.
  •    Avoid extra medicines, supplements, and over-the-counter antibiotics.

For some blood tests, health care providers may be asked to drink extra water to keep more fluid in the veins.

What types of lab tests require special preparation?

Some of the lab tests that require fasting are:

  •    Blood Glucose Test
  •    Cholesterol Levels Test
  •    Triglycerides Test
  •    Calcitonin Test

What do the test results mean?

Lab results are shown as a reference range also called “normal values”. But not everyone is typically normal, sometimes healthy people get results outside the reference range, while unhealthy people can have results in the normal range. If the results fall outside the reference range, or if someone has symptoms despite a normal result, more tests are required.

Many factors affect test results. These include:

  •    Your sex, age, and race
  •    What you eat and drink
  •    Medicines you take
  •    How well do you follow pre-test instructions
  •    Certain foods and drinks
  •    Medicines
  •    Stress
  •    Vigorous exercise
  •    Variations in lab procedures
  •    Having an illness

What if a lab test result is inconclusive?

If a lab test result is inconclusive, the doctor will repeat the test to obtain a fixed result and can order additional tests. The doctor also compares the latest test result to previous results, to get a better idea about the disease.

How reliable are laboratory tests and their results?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the development of all the test kits and equipment that are used in lab tests usually. After the FDA approves a lab test kit, other federal and state agencies make sure that the test kits meet strict standards while they are being manufactured and then used in a medical or clinical laboratory.

If you have any questions about the lab tests or what the results mean, talk to our health care provider at Specialty Care Clinic.