7 Important Blood Tests For Adults
Your primary care doctor will typically order a series of blood tests during your annual physical. But have you ever stopped to ask which blood tests or how to read the results? Most of us only learn about blood tests when something is seriously wrong but blood tests can also be used for routine health monitoring.
This article includes 7 common blood tests for adults along with typical results. Come to your next annual physical appointment prepared!
1. Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test that checks levels of 10 different components in all of your blood cells (including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets). If the results fall within a typical range, your CBC test will come back normal. If the results are outside of a typical range, your doctor may request additional tests.
Here are the typical results for a CBC test:
- Red blood cells: (men) 4.32–5.72 million cells/mcL (women) 3.90–5.03 million cells/mcL
- White blood cells: 3,500 to 10,500 cells/mcL
- Platelets: 150,000 to 450,000/mcL
- Hemoglobin: (men) 13.5–17.5 grams/deciliter (g/dL); (women) 12.0–15.5 g/dL
- Hematocrit: (men) 38.8–50.0 percent (women) 34.9–44.5 percent
Abnormal results from a CBC test may indicate nutritional deficiencies, infection, heart conditions, or cancer.
2. Blood Sugar
Blood sugar levels are one of the most important blood tests for individuals at risk of diabetes or with an existing diabetes diagnosis. High blood sugar could be a sign that the pancreas is not producing insulin or that the body’s cells are resisting insulin.
Blood sugar levels are often measured while a person is fasting, after meals, and at other random points during the day. The expected results for each period of time are different:
- Fasting blood sugar: <100mg/dL
- After a meal: <180mg/dL
- Random blood sugar: <200mg/dL
If your blood sugar levels are abnormal your doctor may suggest additional tests or changes to your lifestyle including diet and exercise.
3. Lipid Panel
You’ve probably heard the term cholesterol or “good” versus “bad” cholesterol. A lipid panel is a common blood test that measures cholesterol and indicates an overall risk of heart disease.
The results of a lipid panel show total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL, “good cholesterol”), low-density lipoprotein (LDL, “bad cholesterol”), and triglycerides. Here are the typical ranges:
- Total cholesterol: <200mg/dL
- HDL: 60mg/dL or higher
- LDL: <100mg/ dL
- Triglycerides: <150mg/ dL
Abnormal lipid panel results could indicate a higher risk of coronary artery disease. Blood tests like the lipid panel are important health monitoring tools for people as they age.
4. Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections
If you are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease, get a blood test. Blood tests can help detect:
It may take time between exposure to an STD and an abnormal blood test. Talk to your doctor about safe sex practices and suggested STD/STI testing.
5. Thyroid Function Test
Your thyroid is a gland with important hormones that control metabolism, energy, weight, and mental health. This blood test can show a doctor whether you may have abnormal levels of certain hormones. Hormones controlled by the thyroid include T3, T4, and TSH.
Hyperthyroidism, indicated by high levels of T4 hormone, is a condition that can cause unexplained weight loss, rapid heartbeat, and changes to metabolism. Hypothyroidism is indicated by low levels of T4 hormone and can cause joint or muscle pain, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, and dry skin and hair.
A thyroid function test also shows the body’s T3 resin uptake (T3RU) which can indicate pregnancy, estrogen, or obesity when elevated. Low T3RU levels may indicate kidney malfunction. Typical levels for a thyroid function blood test are below:
- T4: 4.6 – 12 ug/ dL
- T3: 80 – 180 ng/ dL
- TSH: 0.5 – 6 uU/ mL
- T3RU: 23% – 37%
If your levels fall outside this range, your doctor may recommend additional tests or treatment.
Testing for iron deficiencies is one of the most common blood tests for young adults and adults. Iron can help the body make red blood cells that carry oxygen through the rest of the body.
Iron deficiency can cause anemia, a condition that affects over 1.6 billion people globally. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and cold extremities (hands and feet).
Iron overload is also a serious condition. Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes the body to store too much iron. Early detection can prevent the condition from damaging your organs.
Ferritin is responsible for iron storage within the cell. Typical levels of ferritin are:
- (Men) 24 to 336 micrograms per liter (mcg/L)
- (Women) 11 to 307 micrograms per liter (mcg/L)
Typical levels of iron are:
- (Men) 38.3% to 48.6%
- (Women) 35.5% to 44.9%
If you are experiencing symptoms of anemia, talk to your doctor about testing your iron levels. You may be able to increase your iron levels with supplements and changes to your diet.
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the world. Symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, back pain, muscle aches, mood swings, obesity, and digestive problems.
Vitamin D is naturally occurring in certain foods like salmon, egg yolks, and mushrooms. Some foods are fortified in Vitamin D including milk and some cereals. You can also get Vitamin D from sun exposure or supplements.
Typical Vitamin D levels are between 20 and 40 ng/mL. It is possible to have too much Vitamin D but it’s not common. Talk to your doctor about the results of your Vitamin D blood test to see whether you need to change your diet or supplement routine.
Using Blood Tests for Health Monitoring
So, what do you do once you have the results of your blood test? Well, you can use this information for overall health monitoring. You may need to change your diet, start taking a supplement, or get additional testing and treatment. Always talk to your doctor before taking any medication or supplement.
Monitoring your health can help you take action before you become sick. If you haven’t gotten some of these important blood tests recently, don’t wait – act now.
And if you work at a physician’s office, senior living facility, or another health practice, consider partnering with us at Precision Lab Testing.