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Blood testing is the most routinely used method used by taking a blood sample. After withdrawing the blood sample the sample is sent to the laboratory where the comprehensive processing of the test is done. Blood test is used to diagnose as well as screen the people for diseases.
For example, a blood test can be used to:
- assess your general state of health
- confirm the presence of a bacterial or viral infection
- see how well certain organs, such as the liver and kidneys, are functioning
- screen for certain genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis orspinal muscular atrophy
What lab tests require fasting?
The following common laboratory tests require that you do not eat or drink for 10-12 hours prior to having your blood drawn:
- Total Protein
- CO2 (carbon dioxide, bicarbonate)
- Kidney Tests
- BUN (blood urea nitrogen)
- Liver Tests
- ALP (alkaline phosphatase)
- ALT (alanine amino transferase)
- AST (aspartate amino transferase)
- Lipid Profile
- Vitamin B12.
Is it okay to drink water if I am supposed to be fasting?
A few sips of water are fine. Check with your physician to see if you should continue taking your medicine while you are fasting.
What happens during a blood test?
- A blood test usually involves taking a blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm. The arm is a convenient part of the body to use because it can be easily uncovered. The usual place for a sample to be taken from is the inside of the elbow or wrist, where the veins are relatively close to the surface.
- Blood samples from children are usually taken from the back of the hand. The child's hand will be anaesthetised (numbed) with a special cream before the sample is taken.
- A tight band (tourniquet) is usually put around your upper arm. This squeezes the arm, temporarily slowing down the flow of blood out of the arm, and causing the vein to swell with blood. This makes it easier for a blood sample to be taken.
- Before taking the sample, the doctor or nurse may need to clean the area with an antiseptic wipe.
- A needle attached to a syringe or to a special blood-collecting container is pushed into the vein. The syringe is used to draw out a sample of your blood. You may feel a slight pricking sensation as the needle goes in, but it should not be painful. If you do not like needles and injections, tell the person who is taking the sample so they can make you more comfortable. If you feel faint, lie down.
- When the sample has been taken, the needle will be removed. Pressure is applied to the tiny break in the skin for a few minutes using a cotton-wool pad to stop the bleeding and to prevent bruising. A plaster may then be put on the small wound to keep it clean and prevent infection.
What is expected of me after the test?
- Only a small amount of blood is taken during the test so you shouldn't feel any significant after-effects.
- However, some people do feel dizzy and faint during and after the test. If this happens to you, tell the person carrying out the test so they can help you feel more comfortable.
- After a blood test, you may have a small bruised area on your skin where the needle went in. Occasionally, a larger area of bruising may appear. This can be because there was a lack of pressure at the site of the jab or the blood vessel was damaged by the needle.
- Bruises can be painful but are usually harmless. However, tell your doctor if you frequently get bruises after having a blood test.
- After the blood sample has been taken, it will be put into a bottle and labelled with your name. It will then be sent to a laboratory where it will be examined under a microscope or tested with chemicals, depending on what's being checked. After the reports are ready, you will be informed when and where to get it.
- Sometimes, receiving results can be stressful and upsetting. If you are worried about the outcome of a test, you may choose to take a trusted friend or relative with you. For some tests, such as HIV, you will be offered specialist counselling to help you deal with your results.
Blood is pumped around the body by the heart. It supplies oxygen to the body’s organs, muscles and tissues, and removes carbon dioxide.
Blood is made up of:
- plasma, which is a mix of water and chemicals such as proteins, glucose and salt
- red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs and transport it around the body
- white blood cells, which form part of the body’s immune system and help defend the body against infection
- platelets, which are cells that help the blood to clot (thicken) when you cut yourself
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