Laboratory tests are very important not only when you’re trying to identify specific diseases or conditions that you may have, but also to help in assessing your overall health so that you may be able to make adjustments in your lifestyle, or receive preventative treatment or procedures if needed.
Getting a laboratory test done is just one part of keeping you healthy. There are actually a couple of laboratory tests that you should get so that your doctor will have a better picture of your overall health status. The following are some of the most important laboratory tests that you should never skip:
Complete Blood Count and Metabolic Panel
These two tests are crucial blood tests that are typically part of an annual exam but may be requested more often if you are at a higher risk of heart disease. Understanding the parts of your blood, as well as the different substances in it such as calcium, sodium, sugar, potassium, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine can say a lot of things including how well your kidneys and livers are working, as well as imbalances in your hormones. Blood disorders such as anemia, an infection, or blood clotting problems can also be identified with blood tests.
Metabolic markers can indicate how your body processes macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Annual check-ups usually include a basic lipid panel (test of good and bad cholesterols) and glucose level tests to help identify your level of cholesterol and sugar. High levels of these can indicate a risk for heart diseases and diabetes. Depending on the results, the doctor may even prescribe more comprehensive examinations, especially in order to monitor proteins and substances that are related to liver function such as albumin, total protein, alkaline phosphate (ALP), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and bilirubin.
Broad Thyroid Panel
Your doctor may want to check for your thyroid function which can be done either through getting your TSH and total T4 values, but may be extended to include up to six more thyroid values such as Free T3, Total T3, Reverse T3, Free T4, Antithyroglobulin Ab, and anti-TPO Ab. Should any of these tests result to values that your doctor is not happy about, you may place on a treatment program that can help prevent thyroid diseases and thyroid dysfunction.
While not usually part of an annual physical exam, markers indicating an inflammatory response are important lab tests that you should take when needed. Such inflammatory markers include high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (high-sensitivity CRP or hs-CRP) which is a general marker for inflammations used to detect infections, chronic inflammatory diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, and heart diseases. There are many causes of inflammation ranging from physical trauma, allergies, food and environmental sensitivities, and even emotional stress. Inflammatory markers may indicate a need for more thorough examinations.
Your doctor may also include a test of the level of essential nutrients in your body such as vitamins B12 and D, and minerals such as iron and magnesium. Non-optimal levels of these nutrients can help indicate certain health issues. On the other hand, having optimal levels can help improve overall health so your doctor would make sure that you are maintaining healthy levels of these essential nutrients.
Stay on top of your health with annual check-ups and regular laboratory tests
Laboratory tests form just one part of keeping your body healthy. Your doctor would assess your overall health by correlating the results of your tests with other factors such as medical history as well as your lifestyle. By getting visiting your doctor at least once a year and getting the recommended lab tests, you will be able to be on top of your health.