Blood tests are a great tool to give medical providers a look at your overall health. They’re one of the main ways that diseases and other medical issues are diagnosed, and they can be critical in early detection.
But most people don’t understand what blood work they need to get done on a regular basis and how often they should be getting lab tests done. With so many lab options, it can be overwhelming, so we’re breaking down exactly what you need to know about blood work so you can take control of your health.
What is routine blood work?
One of the most important blood tests you can have done on a regular basis is a complete blood count test, also known as a CBC test. This test screens your white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelets. It’s one of the best ways for providers to see if you have any potential indicators for infection, anemia, cancer, nutritional deficiencies, and more.
A basic metabolic panel, referred to as a BMP, looks at things like sodium, glucose, and electrolytes — elements that make up your blood. With this test, providers can gain valuable insight into your muscles, heart, organs, and bones.
Tracking your test results allows your provider to keep an eye on potential concerns and see if there are any changes that occur from year to year. It’s also an important part of protecting against the development of a health concern.
How often should bloodwork be done?
How routine your bloodwork is will likely vary by age and your overall health. It’s recommended that you get a blood test done at least once a year during your annual checkup.
If you’ve got pre-existing conditions like hypertension, heart disease, or diabetes, you may need to increase your blood work every three or six months, depending on the recommendation of your provider.
Where should I get bloodwork done?
One of the best places to get routine or one-off lab work done is urgent care clinics like CareNow®. Because they’re focused on quality service that’s also convenient, you can get in and out without much wait.
Unlike a la carte laboratories, urgent care clinics also have medical providers on staff who will listen to your symptoms and recommend the best tests for you. Then, once the results are back, the provider will review everything with you and offer the best next steps.
Do you need a prescription for blood work?
In most cases, a medical provider will order blood tests during your annual checkup or one-off appointment. If you’re worried about something specific, you can talk to your provider about your symptoms and they will prescribe blood work based on that.
Once the results are back, your provider will review everything and give you an update or diagnosis based on what your numbers look like. It’s always best to go through a provider when seeking answers as they can share their knowledge on the results.
Can you request blood work?
If you have a health concern and want a specific blood test, you can order one without a provider; however, it’s important to note that your health insurance may not cover it. It’s also more difficult for most people to interpret test results without a medical professional.
If you have a concern and would like lab work to be done, you can visit a medical provider at CareNow® who can recommend which tests are best for you.
What blood tests should you have done?
While not everyone needs to take these tests, they are some of the most common lab tests available. Since bloodwork is directly related to your health status, you should always talk to a provider about what tests are best for you. However, you may want to mention these common blood tests.
- Complete blood count: This tests your white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
- Basic metabolic panel: The BMP checks your calcium, sodium, potassium, glucose, and chloride levels, among others.
- Comprehensive metabolic panel: A CMP includes everything that the BMP does in addition to other proteins and substances related to liver function.
- Lipid panel: This test is used to determine your cholesterol levels, including your HDL and LDL cholesterol.
- Thyroid panel: If you have concerns about your thyroid, this test will see how well it’s producing and reacting to specific hormones.
- Sexually transmitted infections: Syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, and chlamydia can all be diagnosed with tests that can be collected in the clinic.
- Coagulation panel: This test reveals how long it takes for your blood to clot.
- DHEA-sulfate serum test: If your provider is concerned your DHEA hormone is too high or too low, they may recommend this test.
- C-reactive protein test: To discover if you have certain conditions like a bacterial or viral infection, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and even cancer, it’s important to test your CRP levels.
Do you have to fast for bloodwork?
Foods and drinks are absorbed into your bloodstream and can impact the results of some blood work. Because of this, certain lab work requires you to fast before coming in. This means you should abstain from eating or drinking anything except water for several water hours before your test.
Your provider will inform you if you need to fast when prescribing your tests. However, if you have any questions about whether or not you should fast, contact the lab to confirm. If you have a fasting test and you had any food or beverage beforehand, you will have to reschedule your appointment.
The most common types of fasting blood tests include glucose tests and lipid tests, Glucose tests measure blood sugar and may require you to drink a special liquid with large quantities of glucose prior to the test. Lipid tests check your cholesterol levels. In most cases, you will need to fast for at least eight hours before your test.
How long do lab tests take to come back?
The amount of time it takes to receive your test results is based on the type of blood test being performed. In most cases, you’ll receive results in a day or two.
Complete blood count tests and basic metabolic panels, for example, are usually available to your provider within 24 hours. Complete metabolic panels, on the other hand, can take up to three days.
If you have a health concern and would like lab work done or are in need of an annual checkup and routine bloodwork, visit our website to check in online for your appointment. With more than 175 locations throughout the US, we offer convenient care when you need it most. Services may vary among locations.
We’ve earned the distinction of Accredited Urgent Care Center from our industry’s association, Urgent Care Association (UCA), so you can rest easy knowing you’re getting the best care.