Following your consultation at LBSM, you may have been referred for a Blood Test.
This guide takes you through the relevant information about what to expect during this process. Please take the time to read it carefully.
After you have had your blood test, you will have the opportunity to go through the results in detail with the clinical team and work out the next steps together.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries about anything to do with the process of getting your blood test.
- Why do I need a blood test?
- How do I arrange my blood test?
- Which blood tests do I need?
- Preparing for your blood test
- What does the process involve?
- What are the commonly taken blood tests?
- Full blood count (FBC)
- Bone Profile
- Electrolyte test
- Vitamin D
- B12 and Folate
- Thyroid function test
- Genetic testing and Antibody screening
Why do I need a blood test?
Blood tests have a wide range of uses and are one of the most common types of medical test.
For example, a blood test can be used to:
- assess your general state of health
- check if you have an infection
- see how well certain organs, such as the liver and kidneys, are working
- screen for certain genetic conditions
How do I arrange my blood test?
Most blood tests only take a few minutes to complete and are carried out at a specialist health care center by a doctor, nurse or phlebotomist (a specialist in taking blood samples). Most centers LBSM recommend for blood testing are “Walk In”, meaning you do not need to have an appointment. You will need to take your blood test form with you to the department so they phlebotomist knows which tests to conduct.
Which blood tests do I need?
The specific blood tests you require for your condition will be discussed with you at your LBSM physician consultation. If you are not clear on what or why you are having a certain blood test, please do get in touch. You will be able to see what blood tests you have been referred for on the request form.
Preparing for your blood test
Some blood tests require that you fast beforehand. This would mean that you do not eat from midnight and ideally would have an early morning blood test. You are still able to drink water. If you are having a fasting blood test, you will be made aware by your LBSM physician.
What does the process involve?
Blood taking is a fairly straight forward and easy process. A vein is usually found in the front of the elbow with a small needle inserted after the area has been cleaned. The amount of blood tubes taken will depend on the type of tests being conducted, but this will not be more than 3-4. The amount of blood drawn is significantly less than when giving blood for donation. If you feel faint, or are uncomfortable with the sight of blood you will be offered to lie down and some food and drink.
What are the commonly taken blood tests?
Below are a list of the commonly taken blood tests at LBSM.
Full blood count (FBC)
This is a test to check the types and numbers of cells in your blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
This can help give an indication of your general health, as well as provide important clues about certain health problems you may have.
For example, an FBC may detect signs of:
- iron deficiency anaemia or vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia
- infection or inflammation
- bleeding or clotting disorders
This test looks at Calcium levels and other mineral in your bones. This will be relevant if you have bone injuries such as stress fractures or osteoporosis.
Electrolytes are minerals found in the body, including sodium, potassium and chloride, that perform jobs such as maintaining a healthy water balance in your body.
Changes in the level of electrolytes can have various possible causes, including dehydration, diabetes or certain medications.
You may be tested for Vitamin D to investigate a problem related to bone metabolism or parathyroid function, possible vitamin D deficiency, malabsorption, before commencing specific bone treatment and to monitor when taking vitamin D supplements.
Your doctor may request a vitamin D measurement in the following situations:
- If you are found to have an abnormal calcium, phosphate, and/or parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentration in the blood.
- As part of the investigation of some forms of bone disease or muscle weakness/pain.
- If you have disease of the gastrointestinal tract that could result in malabsorption.
B12 and Folate
This is tested to help diagnose the cause of anaemia or neuropathy (nerve damage), to evaluate nutritional status in some patients and to monitor effectiveness of treatment for B12 or folate deficiency
This may be performed when you have large red blood cells, specifically when you have symptoms of anaemia and/or of neuropathy or when you are being treated for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency.
Endocrine and Sex Hormone Profile
Testing endocrine and sex hormones levels may be useful in patients with recurrent injuries, poor growth and bone health and fatigue. There are lots of different tests possible that will depend on your sex and clinical condition. These may include;
Pituitary gland hormones
Blood glucose (blood sugar) tests
A number of tests can be used to diagnose and monitor diabetes by checking the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
These include the:
- fasting glucose test – where the level of glucose in your blood is checked after fasting (not eating or drinking anything other than water) for at least 8 hours
- glucose tolerance test – where the level of glucose in your blood is checked after fasting, and again 2 hours later after being given a glucose drink
- HbA1C test – a test done at your GP surgery or hospital to check your average blood sugar level over the past 3 months
Blood glucose test kits may be available to use at home. These only require a small “pin prick” of blood for testing.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
This test works by measuring how long it takes for red blood cells to fall to the bottom of a test tube. The quicker they fall, the more likely it is there are high levels of inflammation.
An ESR is often used to help diagnose conditions associated with inflammation, such as:
- Inflammatory Arthritis
- giant cell arteritis
- polymyalgia rheumatica
Along with other tests, an ESR can also be useful in confirming whether you have an infection.
Liver function test
When the liver is damaged, it releases substances called enzymes into the blood and levels of proteins produced by the liver begin to drop.
By measuring the levels of these enzymes and proteins, it’s possible to build up a picture of how well the liver is functioning.
This can help to diagnose certain liver conditions, including hepatitis, cirrhosis (liver scarring), and alcohol-related liver disease.
Thyroid function test
This is used to test your blood for levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and, where needed, thyroxine and triiodothyronine (thyroid hormones).
If you have low or high levels of these hormones, it could mean you have a thyroid condition such as an underactive thyroid or overactive thyroid.
Genetic testing and Antibody screening
These are highly specific tests and involve extracting a sample of DNA from your blood, then searching the sample for a specific genetic change (mutation), or looking for particular antibodies.
Some genetic and antibody tests that may be conducted include;
- HLA B27. When you have symptoms of chronic inflammation, pain, and stiffness in certain areas of your body, such as your back, neck, and chest, or the interior portion of your eyes uveitis, especially if you are male and the symptoms began between late teens and your early 30s
- Rheumatoid Factor. When you have symptoms suggestive of Rheumatoid arthritis or Sjögren’s syndrome
- Anti-CCP. If a patient has joint inflammation and/or undiagnosed or undifferentiated inflammatory polyarthritis (symptoms which may suggest but do not yet meet the criteria of RA) and the doctor suspects RA.
- Autoantibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced by a person’s immune system that help the body to recognise and get rid of infection. Autoantibodies are antibodies that recognise parts of our own body. Autoantibodies can be found in healthy people, particularly as we get older, but they are also found in some autoimmune diseases. In a few specific diseases, autoantibodies are actually causing the disease e.g. Grave’s disease, myasthenia gravis.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries about the process of getting your blood test. Look forward to seeing you at your next appointment.
The information in this article has been cited from www.nhs.uk to align with best clinical practice standards.