What a blood test will tell you about your health

If something is missing or not good for you, your body signals this very clearly in many cases. A mineral deficiency, for example, changes the skin. If you constantly turn night into day and let the corks pop, you will feel flabby.

But there are also problems that your body cannot reveal directly to you or signals that you simply overlook. In many cases these are the more serious ones. “Many illnesses do not initially cause any symptoms. The phrase ‘You are as healthy as you feel!’ unfortunately, this is not always true,” says Professor Tammo von Schrenck from Mein Direktlabor in Hamburg.

Based on the blood values, experts can see how your health really is. But the blood count not only reveals hidden diseases, but also whether you smoke, drink, are often under stress and whether your diet is balanced. It is also increasingly common to hear that a blood test can even make losing weight easier.

A small prick helps to collect information about your state of health. © Soonthorn Wongsaita / Shutterstock.com Why vaccination opponents are wrong

When is a blood test useful?

  • For diffuse complaints “A blood test can reliably identify risk factors and thus set the course for appropriate prevention or therapy,” explains Professor von Schrenck. If the patient already has symptoms, the blood test serves to diagnose a specific disease. For example, if the patient feels tired and listless, the diagnosis of anaemia/iron deficiency can be made by means of a low ferritin value in the blood.
  • To determine the course of disease : “For some metabolic diseases, a blood analysis is used to assess the course of the disease,” said the expert.
  • Before operations A blood test helps to identify possible risk factors or previous illnesses, such as a blood clotting disorder. In emergency situations, certain laboratory values (for example electrolytes or the blood count) provide important information about the patient’s condition and further measures.
  • If diseases are suspected which initially proceed without symptoms A blood test also reveals various sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV hepatitis B+C Chlamydia and syphilis. These infections often proceed without symptoms, but can have far-reaching health consequences and can lead to dangerous infections,” explains von Schrenck.

Therefore, every woman should be regularly tested for Chlamydia

What blood tests are there?

To record the blood count of a patient, the doctor orders a blood test. This is an important diagnostic tool for the doctor. During a blood test, the blood is broken down into its components and examined using various methods. Our blood consists of 45% blood cells and 55% blood plasma. In a blood test, however, only the blood cells are examined more closely. A distinction is made between a small and a large blood count.

Wieviel kostet ein Bluttest? A blood test identifies risk factors and thus sets the course for a therapy. © Csaba Deli / Shutterstock.com

At small blood count the red and white blood cells (erythrocytes and leukocytes) and the blood platelets (thrombocytes) are examined. The examination is part of the routine of general health care, but is also ordered in cases of suspected anaemia, infections and inflammations. The values provide information as to whether blood formation and oxygen supply are functioning well and whether there are any deficiency symptoms.

If necessary, the doctor can also have additional values determined, for example liver or kidney values.

Who thinks that large blood count …would give much more values, which is wrong. In contrast to the small blood count, the subspecies of white blood cells (leukocytes) are examined more closely. Leukocytes are part of the immune system that fights foreign substances and pathogens. On the basis of the data of the “differential blood count”, it is possible to identify which subspecies appears elevated in the blood.

On this basis, conclusions can be drawn about the causes of certain diseases, for example, infections, inflammations, parasite infestation, poisoning or allergies.

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Will a blood test help with the weight loss?

If you want to lose weight, you should first take the classic route of changing your lifestyle. That means: healthy nutrition, lots of sport. But what if you still can’t lose weight? Can the blood provide an explanation for the lack of success?

Possibly yes, says the doctor. “After several unsuccessful diets, a blood test is advisable to clarify the cause,” von Schrenck advises. Schrenck believes that metabolic diseases are partly responsible for the lack of weight loss, for example an underfunction of the thyroid gland or adrenal hyperactivity. “The blood test provides clarity in this case,” said von Schrenck.

It is not possible to lose weight solely through blood values – as long as you do not suffer from a metabolic disease. In this context, the blood group diet developed by the American naturopath Peter D’Adamo is also heavily criticized by medical experts.

The theory of the diet concept is based on the idea that everyone should eat according to their blood group. Depending on the blood group, different foods are on the menu. Doctors complain that the theory is not scientifically tenable and tends to lead to an unbalanced diet.

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A blood test is useful for overweight people regardless of their desire to lose weight, according to von Schrenck: “Since they generally have a higher risk of certain metabolic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus type 2 and lipid metabolism disorders, it is advisable to test for certain risk factors (for example blood sugar, HbA1c, cholesterol, triglycerides, uric acid). In this way, a lifestyle adjustment or drug therapy can be initiated if necessary”.

Not only can your doctor arrange for a blood test, you can also do this privately. © Oleksiy Mark / Shutterstock.com

Among the most important indicators in the blood are:

  • the blood sugar (provides information on whether diabetes mellitus is present)
  • Blood lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides (they explain an increased risk of cardiovascular disease)
  • Inflammation parameters (for example C-reactive protein: CRP )
  • blood salts such as iron, sodium, potassium or calcium
  • certain enzymes and proteins
  • Metabolites such as creatinine and urea (they give important information about kidney function)
  • hormones, for example from the thyroid gland
  • Blood gases
  • Tumour marker
  • Coagulation factors

In order to detect bacteria in the blood or urine (in urinary tract infections) of the patient, a so-called Culture made. To do this, the blood or urine is placed on different culture media and observed to see whether pathogens grow well there. In this way, it can be determined whether the patient has an infection and if so, which one, and whether she is resistant to antibiotics.

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Can I arrange a blood test myself?

Normally, a blood test is only carried out on a specific occasion, for example if a disease is suspected. No physician will order a laboratory examination of the blood out of sheer curiosity.

Nevertheless, you can also take your health into your own hands: “What many don’t know: The blood sample does not necessarily have to be taken by your family doctor. Even as a private person you can go directly to a laboratory and have certain blood tests carried out there. For example, some medical laboratories already offer special services for quick and convenient blood analysis, sometimes with medical advice,” says von Schrenck.

Can I have a blood test at home?

Recently, blood tests for home use have also been available that can be ordered on the Internet. You order the test you want, take blood from your fingertip and send the sample to a laboratory. The user can then follow the analysis process on her home screen. Tests are offered which, for example, measure values relevant to fitness or detect food intolerance.

Alle wichtigen Infos rund um den Bluttest After several unsuccessful diets, a blood test is useful to clarify the cause. © science photo / Shutterstock.com

Also the Vitamin-D -level and the amount of omega-3 fatty acids should be determinable. Such tests cost between 99 and 499 euros. Physicians are rather critical of the method, suspect behind it a self-optimization trend with partly senseless medical offers. “In addition, the reliability of the results is controversial,” says von Schrenck.

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What should be considered before a blood count?

Depending on what your doctor or health care professional wants to know from the blood sample you take, there are a few things you should be aware of before you have a blood test. If you want your blood sugar or triglyceride levels measured, you must come to the test on an empty stomach. This means that you must not eat anything for 8 to 12 hours before taking the blood sample. Water is allowed, also tea without sugar and milk. All sugary drinks falsify the result.

You should avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours before the test. You should also avoid intensive sports before taking the blood sample, as this could also alter the results.

Ask your doctor or health care professional if you should stop taking certain medicines, such as birth control pills, before the test. “With some hormone tests, you have to take into account variations in the time of day,” said the doctor.

What are the risks with a blood test?

A blood test is usually risk-free. The blood sample is usually taken in the crook of the arm. Only in very rare cases can an infection of the wound occur. A bruise (haematoma) forms if the puncture site is not closed long enough. Don’t worry: the harmless bruise will quickly fade away again.

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How much does a blood test cost?

Typically, the insurance company pays for laboratory services if these services are arranged by the doctor’s practice. However, if there is no concrete suspicion of illness or a disease, these services are optional services (individual health services: IGeL ), which are usually not covered by the statutory health insurance funds. Private health insurance companies usually cover the laboratory costs.

“Irrespective of the insured status, every patient can make use of laboratory services. The amount charged for individual analyses is transparently defined in the physician fee schedule. The initiated costs must then be borne by the patient herself,” explains Professor von Schrenck.

Whenever your doctor suggests a blood test, you should take it. Regardless of whether the blood test provides information about possible illnesses or “only” about deficiency symptoms, you can use the results to specifically improve your quality of life.