Most of us have undergone blood testing at some point of our lives, where we had samples of our blood drawn by doctors and medical staff and tested for various problems in the laboratory. Once the process was done, we received the results which were interpreted by the health expert and, if something was wrong, we were adequately treated since the health staff diagnosed the exact cause of our problems through this form of testing.
Monitoring one's blood levels and performing blood tests in general are very important procedures for the process of diagnosing and treating illnesses. Our blood contains various elements which need to be there in certain levels. Thus, if the blood test results are not normal, we probably suffer from some health problems.
Importance of Blood Tests
Our blood is made of many different compounds, including salts and some proteins. The element which makes our blood a liquid is the plasma. When we get cut, for example, the proteins in the plasma become solid in order to close the wound, while the remainder of the blood remains in its fluid form called serum. This serum is used in testing where the health experts need to find out whether we are healthy or not, depending on our immune system's capability to fight different diseases.
The blood samples necessary for this form of testing are taken either from a vein, which delivers the blood to the heart, or from an artery, which delivers blood away from the heart. The amount of blood necessary for the blood test varies from several drops to more. However, the most common source of blood samples for this form of testing are veins from around the elbow area.
During the blood drawing process, a special type of cord is tied around the upper arm, making the vein more visible and more easily accessible. When this is done, the health expert cleans and disinfects the entry spot for the needle with alcohol and places the needle inside the vein by penetrating the skin. The needle is attached to a low pressure bottle or a syringe and the blood is drawn from the vein. Once enough blood has been connected, the needle is removed and a small cotton ball is pressed onto the entry spot until the bleeding stops.
If the blood is drawn from an artery for the purpose of blood testing, it is commonly taken from around the wrist area, where the arteries are known to be very close to the skin. Taking into consideration that arteries contain more pain nerves than veins, the process of blood drawing of this type can lead to high levels of discomfort. When this form of blood drawing is done, the cotton ball is pressed onto the entry spot for about 5 minutes.
Either way, the patients are asked to sit or lie down for a while after the blood drawing procedure since it can lead to fainting and dizziness in some individuals.
Guidelines for Blood Tests
The blood samples undergo several types of tests. The doctors may observe the levels of red blood cells and white blood cells and the platelets. Also, they perform a blood smear, placing a sample of the blood on a slide and observing it under the microscope.
So, basically, when the red blood cell levels are observed, this provides information on the levels of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin delivers oxygen throughout the body and it is very important to contain adequate levels of it in the body in order to stay healthy.
Also, the size of the red blood cells is very important, determining the type of anemia a person has, if his/her hemoglobin levels are too low.
The red blood cell volume is also measured during the test, again being useful for diagnosing anemia. As far as the blood smear test is concerned, doctors add stains to it in order to test it for parasites.
On the other hand, white blood cells are tested too. Here, the health experts observe the number of different types of these cells that one has in the blood. This form of testing is called the differential WBC count. If the numbers of white blood cells is abnormally higher, this signifies the possible presence of infections, bleeding or burns in the body. Sometimes, this even contributes to the diagnosis of leukemia, malaria or cancer. Low white blood cell levels signify some other problems like the presence of autoimmune diseases or viral infections and side-effects of some drugs.
Therefore, monitoring the white blood cell levels can contribute to the diagnosis process significantly.
Finally, low platelets signify one's proneness to bleeding, usually being connected to autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, if the levels of platelets are too high, this can possibly lead to the formation of blood clots or be a sign of bone marrow problems related to cancer or leukemia.
All in all, blood testing is a very important form of diagnosis for many types of health problems people may face. It analyzes all the crucial aspects of our blood, showing problems related to the abnormal levels of certain blood elements.