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I had my Blood tested. The doctor said that I was just fine. What did that tell me? Well, come to find out, a 'Blood test' is a snapshot taken of exactly what the doctor, ordering the test, wanted to see, and no more! The result of my test was only one of the clues used to diagnose my condition. My Blood tests were not a full view of everything, but merely a probe for what the doctor wanted to see on that day.

Blood has many components: water, different types of living cells, chemicals such as hormones and enzymes, nutrients like oxygen and glucose, body waste, and other substances. There are, therefore, many different types of Blood tests. These tests reveal new and important Blood components every year.

If I were donating Blood, the testing would have been very different; more detailed and probative in some areas. If I were to have a rare Blood type, the Blood testing is then even more complex and more expensive. Different Blood tests measure different parts of Blood and combinations of those parts. So you see, when my doctor ordered my 'Blood test,' it measured only a particular Blood component set, and nothing more.

Since Blood qualities are so important to extending life, Blood testing is also very important to those who wish to live longer (me for instance). Testing and testing precision is also of great interest to those who make money from donating Blood, and to those who make money from the processing, fractionating and the handling of Blood and Blood products.

In general, Blood tests are screening tests that suggest that there may be a problem, and can be indicators that further evaluation may be needed. For example, some Blood tests look for indicators of serious diseases, such as cancer.

For instance, in men, measuring the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) helps screen for prostate cancer; an elevated level suggests a more thorough work-up should be done. Diabetes is characterized by high Blood-sugar levels, and a single highly elevated Blood-glucose level is a strong indicator of diabetes. Other tests, such as monitoring the rise and fall of Blood glucose after consuming a fixed amount of sugar, also are useful for a specific diagnosis. Some tests measure hormones; pregnancy tests, for example, measure HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). A complete Blood count series evaluates the red (oxygen-carrying) and white (disease-fighting) Blood cells.

Tests that measure antibodies in Blood (the body’s immune response) can diagnose specific diseases such as hepatitis A, B, C or HIV/AIDS or verify the effectiveness of treatment. My capacity to resist disease, as well as immune disorders (lupus erythematosis and rheumatoid arthritis) can also be assessed.

Electrolyte tests measure the balance of body salts such as sodium, chloride, and potassium. Other Blood tests measure cholesterol and other lipids. Bacteria that can live in the Blood during serious infections can be cultured from Blood, grown in the lab, and identified so that a patient will receive the correct antibiotic. Assessment of specific enzymes can aid in the diagnosis of liver disease or acute heart attack.

I now know that Blood tests include a large number of extremely precise laboratory assessments. The results of each of these tests must be evaluated in the context of the patient’s history, examination, and other data. It can make a difference what lab does the test. Keep in mind that very often our Blood is tested by near minimum wage workers, of questionable skill and experience, who may have been quickly trained! Furthermore, old or poorly maintained equipment is more likely to do an inconsistent or inaccurate test. Personally, I am thankful that, as a resident of the United States, I do not have to stay up nights worrying about most of the worst of these things period-red.gif (63 bytes)

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   last updated 03/10/2013