Specialty testing can teach a great deal about your health to you and your physician. These tests focus on specific markers in the blood to indicate whether or not certain conditions exist in the body or not. Once these markers are identified with specialty testing and conditions are found to exist, then treatment can begin. Confirming a diagnosis and beginning treatment can keep you from developing more serious conditions.
A normal test result is just as significant as a test result that is not normal. A normal result does not mean that the test was unnecessary. When a specialty test returns with a normal result, it not only helps to rule out disease, but it also establishes a baseline for you. Each person has his or her own baseline “normal”. A person’s own result is the best baseline for monitoring any change that takes place in the future.
What follows is a brief description of the typical tests that may be included in a specialty testing profile. These descriptions will help you to better understand your laboratory test results so that you may have a more meaningful discussion with your physician. You should not rely on this information for diagnostic treatment. These descriptions are not intended to be a complete listing of all conditions medically relevant to each test. Always consult your doctor regarding your laboratory tests.
Glucose is the chief source of energy for all living organisms; however, abnormally high or low blood glucose levels may be a sign of disease. For example, high glucose levels after 12 hours of fasting may suggest diabetes.
Phosphate is closely associated with calcium in bone development and is primarily found in the bones. The remaining phosphate level, which is found in the blood, is very important for muscle and nerve function. High levels of phosphate in the blood are usually associated with kidney disease.
Calcium is one of the most important elements in the body. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in the body is in the bones. The remaining one-percent is in body fluids and is very important for the proper function of nerves, enzymes, muscles, and blood clotting. High levels can be caused by bone disease, excess intake of and over activity of the thyroid gland.
This element is found primarily inside the cells of the body. Like calcium, the level in the blood is important. A very low level of magnesium in the blood can cause your muscles to tremble.
AST is found mainly in the heart, liver, and muscles. High levels of AST in the blood suggest a problem with the heart, liver, or muscles.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
BUN is a waste product derived from protein breakdown in the liver and excreted by the kidneys. When your kidneys are not working well, the level of BUN in the blood will rise. Dehydration and blood loss can also cause a high BUN level.
The blood concentration of creatinine depends upon two things - the amount of muscle you have and the ability of your kidneys to excrete the creatinine. A high level of creatinine in the blood usually indicates deterioration in kidney function.
This is a measure of the total amount of protein in your blood. A low or high total protein does not indicate a specific disease, but it does indicate that some additional tests may be required to determine if there is a problem.
This is the group of proteins in your blood that helps to fight infections. It is actually comprised of about 60 different important proteins. Some of the proteins in the group play an important role in blood clotting. If your globulin level is abnormal, your doctor may want to measure some of the individual proteins that make up this group.
This element plays an important role in salt and water balance in your body. Too much water intake, heart failure, or kidney failure because of fluid retention can cause a low sodium level in the blood. Too much intake of salt or not enough intake of water can cause a high level.
This element is found inside all cells. Its role is to maintain water balance inside the cells and help in the transmission of nerve impulses. The level of potassium in blood is of critical significance. A low potassium level can cause muscle weakness and heart problems.
The body must have iron to make hemoglobin and to help transfer oxygen to the muscles. If the body is low in iron, all body cells, particularly muscles in adults and brain cells in children, do not function properly.
Cholesterol is an essential blood fat, but too high a level of this blood fat is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and clogged blood vessels. The total cholesterol level in blood includes LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol).
This is a blood fat largely derived from dietary fat absorption, and to a limited extent, related to a higher risk of heart disease.
T4 controls the rate at which energy is used and released by the body. A low level of T4 (hypothyroidism) may cause tiredness, depression, or weight gain even though your appetite is decreased. A high level of T4 (hyperthyroidism) may cause nervousness, irritability or weight loss.