The Health Fair is coming in just 2 weeks and I thought it might be helpful to give a few tips on how to get the most out of your labwork. I’ll list a few of my favorites and some that you can bypass
· Blood chemistry profile - is very useful to get a lot of information on the health of your liver, kidneys, blood sugar, electrolytes and lipid panel (cholesterol and others). This is a foundational test that everyone over 35 should get on a yearly basis. You can have abnormalities and not notice any symptoms. At $35 this is a bargain!
· Hemogram - is great to check for anemia or as a first test in idenitifying iron overload (which I do see more of in this region). Any other blood abnormalities such as low white blood cells or clotting cells (platelets) are also included. This is another very useful test!
· Vitamin D level – please put this one on your list. It is typically low in this northern part of the country and can cause immune problems (remember last winter when you caught every viral thigh floating around?), including cancer, heart disease, general fatigue and body aches. If you have ever talked about vitamin D with me, you know I’m the ‘Vitamin D queen’ – I’ve encouraged this for years and seen many people feel dramatically better when the level is optimal. At $40, this is extremely reasonable and one of the ‘must haves’. CRP – a marker of inflammation is helpful for heart health as well as other low grade inflammation. This is important as inflammation is now identified as the basis of many chronic diseases, not just heart health.
· Hemoglobn A1C – is great to look at your average blood sugar over the past 3 months, as opposed to the one in the chemistry panel, which is a snapshot of the blood sugar at the time of the test. Essential for diabetics and very useful for anyone that is interested in monitoring their blood sugar. You can take steps to improve it before you become diabetic.
· Hormone levels - are helpful if you are not using topical hormone replacement. But these are not the best if you are using creams, gels, or patches.
Now a few tests that I don’t recommend:
· Thyroid panel – this is a group of tests that have very limited use in the work up of thyroid disorders. There are better tests to evaluate the function of your thyroid – I use the free T4 and free T3, which are more accurate, along with several others. Save your money on these.
· Celiac test - is an ok screening for this disorder but please note that it is not very accurate. There are many negative results reported when the patient does in fact have Celiac. There is also a ‘non-Celiac gluten sensitivity’, which does not show up on these tests at all. If you have concerns about this, give me a call.
This is a great time to take advantage of the very good pricing on your lab tests. I hope this is useful for you in choosing the appropriate ones for you.