What Can Be Detected in a CBC Test?
You’ve gone to your yearly physical exam. Good for you!
But, you see that your doctor has ordered blood work. There’s something about a “CBC” on there.
But, what is that? How is this CBC test going to help you at all and why did your doctor order it?
If this has happened, don’t worry. CBC tests are very common, and they’re a great tool for physicians. From detecting diseases to testing for medication side effects, CBC testing is effective and useful.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is a CBC Test?
A CBC (complete blood count) test is a very common blood test that healthcare providers use to detect all kinds of disorders, diseases, and other conditions. They can even look for signs and side effects of any current medications you’re taking.
As the name implies, a complete blood count measures and counts your blood cells. To do this, your medical provider may have a phlebotomist draw your blood for CBC testing.
After the lab receives your blood samples, they can evaluate your blood cells. Then, they give the results to your doctor so that they can make interpretations.
The Purpose of a CBC Test
The CBC test gives your provider details about the state of your health. It’s one of the most important tools for determining your health because it uses one blood sample to analyze a bunch of different characteristics and criteria.
The complete blood count test looks at all of the cells in your body. And, since all disease starts in the cells, it’s a great indicator of bigger problems.
In fact, CBCs are great at catching small problems before they become worse.
There are three primary reasons for physicians and other medical providers to order CBCs:
Complete blood counts can help physicians diagnose a slew of diseases by identifying abnormalities in your blood. Medical providers can use CBCs to find the cause or rule out other causes for symptoms that you may be experiencing.
This blood testing also helps with monitoring a patient’s condition over time. If your physician has already given you a diagnosis or they’ve let you know they’re worried about something, they can use the CBC test to monitor those numbers over time.
CBC testing can even help them see how your body is reacting to treatments that you may be on.
Lastly, CBC testing helps providers screen patients for health problems. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, your provider should still check to make sure that everything is going well.
What Does a CBC Test Look For?
A complete blood count includes multiple tests that help scientists and medical professionals look at and study your blood cells. This includes your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
A CBC test measures, counts, and evaluates multiple characteristics of your blood:
- A CBC without the differential counts the total number of white blood cells in your body
- A CBC with the differential looks at how many of each type of white blood cell you have
- A CBC test measures the amount of hemoglobin in your blood, which tells us about the protein that carries oxygen throughout your body.
- A CBC test evaluates the kind and concentration of red blood cells in your body by measuring hematocrit
Overall, a CBC test tells your physician a lot of basic things about your blood. They’ll know the number and concentrations of different blood cell types as well as the size and shape of those cells. Plus, they can see how many new blood cells your body is creating to replace ones that die over time.
What Does a CBC Detect?
Because a CBC test tells your practitioner a lot about your blood, it can reveal important characteristics that can help with detecting blood-related diseases. Here are some of the common disorders, diseases, and infections that a complete blood count can help us learn more about:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Infections and other disorders related to abnormal white blood cell counts
- Blood-related disorders, such as thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, and agranulocytosis
- Blood marrow disorders, such as myelodysplastic syndromes
- Cancers, such as leukemias and lymphomas
- Side effects of medications, chemotherapy, and other treatments
If you get your normal, yearly checkup, your physician is likely to order this test among others. With the results of this test, you’ll learn a lot about the current state of your health.
What Should I Expect During CBC Testing?
Typically, you shouldn’t need to do anything to prepare for a CBC test.
Although, your physician may ask you to fast so that they can get a measure of your fasting glucose. This can help them determine whether you have conditions like diabetes and prediabetes. This can also help them diagnose other conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and insulin resistance.
If you’ve ever had blood testing done, it’s likely that you’ve gotten a CBC drawn.
The medical provider who’s drawing your blood will clean your arm with an alcohol swab and insert the needle. You may feel a sting or a pinch, but it shouldn’t hurt too much.
If the medical provider is getting this blood testing for an infant, they’ll get the sample of blood from their heel.
Using the needle, the provider can get a sample of blood. After they’re done getting the blood that they need, they’ll remove the needle and place a compress on your arm.
After that, they send the blood to the lab.
There’s no need to worry about the blood in your body. Your body will quickly compensate and make up for the lost blood supply.
Get a CBC Test Today
Overall, the CBC test is a fantastic resource for both providers and patients. It helps us learn more about our bodies and what’s going on inside.
Even if you aren’t having any symptoms or other problems, a CBC test can still offer a lot of information.
If you’re interested in getting CBC testing, contact our team at Precision Labs today.