When something’s not feeling right – sleeping more than usual, lack of appetite, mysterious bruises – getting a blood test is one of the first steps you can take to pinpoint the cause and find some relief.
The trillions of blood cells in your body hold many clues and markers of your health and can sometimes point to problem areas even before you start suffering the consequences. However, the hassle and inconvenience of multiple trips to the doctor, arranging transportation, taking time off from work – not to mention finding ways to pay – can lead to delays in getting the information a doctor needs to make a diagnosis.
Thankfully, the rise of telehealth and at-home testing options has made people more comfortable taking their health into their own hands.
The most important blood tests for women evaluate liver and kidney function, proper blood clotting, and possibility of disease or infection, and can even help pinpoint causes of irritability and mood swings. At any age, it’s essential for women to get regular blood testing to monitor their health. Start with these 12 important blood tests:
Complete blood count
Complete blood count tests measure your red and white blood cell count, hemoglobin, platelets and hematocrit in your blood. The test can be used to determine if you have an iron deficiency, detect the presence of internal bleeding, or be an early indicator of heart disease.
Comprehensive metabolic panel
A comprehensive metabolic panel includes 14 tests that measure the function of the liver, kidneys, general nutritional state and disease-fighting abilities. This test will gather information and report on calcium, carbon dioxide, sodium, glucose and 10 other levels, which combined, paint a picture of your overall health. This panel can also be used to monitor the side effects of medication.
Women make small amounts of testosterone in their ovaries to help maintain hormonal balance. A blood test to determine testosterone levels in your blood may help diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome, which is most common among women of reproductive age. Abnormal testosterone levels may be the cause of tiredness, weight gain or low sex drive.
Dehydroepiandrosterone is a hormone produced in the adrenal gland. High levels could be a sign of adrenal cancer or Cushing’s syndrome, while low levels could indicate a damaged adrenal gland or Addison’s disease.
A form of estrogen and the primary reproductive hormone in women, estradiol has roles in fat distribution, as well as bone and joint health. Estradiol tests can be used to determine healthy functioning of the ovaries and other reproductive organs in women.
Fibrinogen helps heal the body after a trauma by contributing to the clotting response. Fibrinogen deficiency means the body can’t form blood clots effectively, which can lead to excess bleeding or artery and vein blockage (thrombosis).
This test checks glucose levels in the blood (blood sugar) over the past two to three months—an important test used to diagnose diabetes or prediabetes. For those already diagnosed, this test monitors how well it’s being managed.
C-reactive protein (CRP)
A high level of CRP can be a sign of infection or long-term disease. Testing can help medical professionals evaluate a woman’s risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and heart attack.
Abnormal levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, may mean you’re at risk for strokes, heart attacks, artery damage and inappropriate blood clots. The test can also show B vitamin deficiencies if the amount of homocysteine is abnormally high.
The thyroid glands help to regulate weight and body temperature, among other things. An overactive thyroid can cause irregular heartbeat and weight loss, while an underactive thyroid results in drowsiness and weight gain.
A cholesterol panel measures and reports the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL), and the results can determine if a woman is at risk of heart disease and stroke.
Vitamin D 25-hydroxy
This test measures the amount of vitamin D in your body. Women over 65 are especially at risk for vitamin D deficiency, which can result from poorly functioning liver and kidneys or a lack of sunlight, and result in fatigue, weakness, pain and mood problems.
Though the amount of information in the results of these 12 important tests may appear daunting, testing can be an early indicator of both major and minor health concerns. Armed with this information, you can work side-by-side with your health care provider to establish what, if any, corrective measures need to be taken, or if further evaluation is required.
Of course, a trip to the doctor can quickly add up, especially when diagnostic tests are involved. But these important blood tests don’t have to be daunting, expensive or stuck at the bottom of your to-do list.
By offering affordable direct-to-consumer testing and providing a convenient solution for all medical laboratory needs, a new innovative service called Walk-In Lab offers a way to purchase the complete panel containing each of these important 12 tests, at a cost savings of up to 85%. You can purchase the complete panel online from LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics and schedule a time to go into a physical lab.
You can purchase these safe, high-quality tests with or without an order from your senior’s doctor; however, you’ll want to schedule time with them afterward to discuss the results.
If you’ve been putting off blood tests because of the hassle of waiting rooms, transportation arrangements or tight finances, wait no longer.