Posts Tagged ‘order your own lab tests’

What is the importance of the liver?

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The importance of your liver

The liver is a very important organ as its job is to filter all the blood in your body. It continually filters toxins, drugs, and wastes the body creates. A healthy liver is imperative for the body to function properly. Increased use of prescription, over-the-counter drugs, alcohol consumption, and illegal drugs can inhibit the liver from doing its job. The liver has to break down alcohol and drugs to remove it from the body. An excess of substances like drugs or alcohol can damage the liver.  Increasingly, people are mixing both drugs, like acetaminophen, and alcohol which can lead to acute liver failure. It’s the only internal organ that can regenerate itself but that still doesn’t mean you should abuse it. The liver stores vitamins that are fat soluble and minerals, such as iron, and releases them to the blood as necessary. It also generates bile, which is a greenish alkaline fluid that aids digestion, to break down fats.  It’s important to make sure your liver is functioning correctly and we recommend you get your liver enzymes tested periodically.

The liver is one of the biggest organs in the body. It is responsible for numerous significant metabolic functions. It transforms the nutrients in the foods you consume into substances that the body can use, stores these substances, and provides cells with them when necessary. Another key function of the liver is it takes up toxic substances and turns them into harmless substances or makes sure they are released from the body.

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The human adult liver weighs about 3.1 pounds and is found in the right upper abdomen, right below the diaphragm. It is quite large, so it takes up most of the space under the ribs and even some space in the left upper abdomen. If you viewed it from the outside, you can easily distinguish a larger right lobe and smaller left lobe. These two lobes are split up by a band of connective tissue that keeps the liver in the abdominal cavity. The gallbladder, where bile is kept, is found in the small hollow near the liver.

Liver tissue is made up of many miniscule units of liver cells that are called lobules. Lots of canals that carry blood and bile run between the liver cells. Blood that comes from the gallbladder, and pancreas flows through the portal vein to the liver, thus carrying nutrients, medication and even toxic substances. Once these substances get to the liver, they are processed, stored, transformed, detoxified, and passed back into the blood or released in the bowel to be eliminated. This process allows the liver to, for example, get rid of alcohol from your blood and remove by-products from the breakdown of medications.

The liver, with the help of vitamin K, creates proteins that are preventers  of  blood clotting. It also plays a vital role in all metabolic processes in the body. In fat metabolism, the liver cells break down fats and in turn produces energy. They produce about 800 ml of bile per day. This olive green liquid is collected in small ducts and then goes through the main bile duct, which carries it to the part of the small intestine called the duodenum. As mentioned, bile is critical for the breakdown and absorption of fats.

The liver also plays a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, as it helps to ensure that the level of sugar in your blood, otherwise known as blood glucose, stays continuous. When blood sugar levels go up, like after a meal, the liver takes the sugar from blood supplied by the portal vein and keeps it in the form of glycogen. On the other hand, if someone’s blood sugar levels are lower, the liver breaks down the glycogen and releases sugar into the blood. In addition to sugar, it also keeps vitamins and minerals, such as iron and copper, and lets them into the blood when necessary.  It’s important to test for blood sugar, at least annually, and we recommend a simple blood test that you can order online

The liver also plays a significant role in protein metabolism. The liver cells transform amino acids in foods, in order for them to be used to create energy or produce fats or carbohydrates. There is a toxic substance that is called ammonia, and it is a consequence of this process. The cells in the liver turn ammonia to a less toxic substance called urea, and it is released into the blood. Urea is then moved to the kidneys and leaves the body in urine.

Different Types of Liver Tests

There is a blood test, also known as hepatic function test, that is used to screen the liver to see if it is functioning normally. Levels for the following are included in the test are bilirubin, liver enzymes, and blood proteins. There are many acronyms associated with the different components of this blood test and there are acceptable levels that physicians use to help diagnose problems with the liver. Albumin, Globulin and Total Protein levels are used to measure the amount and type of protein in your blood. They are a useful index of total health and nutrition. Abnormal results are an indicator of malnutrition, liver or kidney disease, cirrhosis, multiple myeloma, sarcoid, amyloid, lupus, and/or major infections. Globulin is the antibody protein important for fighting disease. If one of these values is high, but the other values are within expected ranges, the result is probably not significant, but only your physician can confirm this. See the discount online blood lab tests available that you can order yourself to see if your liver and other organs are functioning properly.

LDH (Lactate Dehydrogenase) levels are an enzyme found in blood and tissues. Elevated levels are found in various diseases including myocardial infarction, cancer, and anemia. A hemolyzed blood specimen can falsely elevate levels. Slightly decreased levels are usually insignificant but only your physician can confirm this. The Gamma GT (GGT) component is a liver enzyme whose elevation may indicate liver disease. Moderate intake of alcohol and some common medications may cause elevated levels to occur. Bilirubin is a primary pigment found in bile. It is derived from hemoglobin and prepared by the liver and builds up when the liver is functioning poorly or when some other disorder reduces the normal flow of bile. It is expanded also when there has been elimination of red blood cells. Finally, AST & ALT are caused by injury to cells which then releases these enzymes into the blood. Liver disease and heart attacks, as well as severe physical injury can cause elevation of these values. small values are probably not significant, but can only be confirmed by your physician.

Maintaining a healthy liver is crucial for your overall health, as there are many common liver diseases. Fatty liver disease is when there is extra fat in the liver cells and is typically associated with those that drink too much alcohol.  This type of diseases generally does not have any symptoms.  If diagnosed, fatty liver disease will go away once alcohol is eliminated from the diet. Hepatitis B is a severe liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis purpose the liver to swell and become damaged. Hepatitis C is an infection produce by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver; hard scar tissue replaces soft healthy tissue Cirrhosis occurs in response to chronic damage to your liver. If you believe you may be suffering from any of these liver diseases, it is important that you see your primary health physician to find a course of action that works best for you.

Take control of your health – order your own discount lab tests online at www.HealthOneLabs.com – no doctor’s order needed – economical, fast, private!

Why you want to have your liver tested

  • Ensure your liver is functioning correctly by getting a discount online blood tests
  • The liver is the ultimate filter; including toxic substances
  • The liver is one of the few organs that can regenerate
  • Alcohol and medications can strain the liver so it is important to check your liver functions with periodic blood tests
  • The liver breaks down bile which helps metabolize fats

Why having your blood tested for liver enzymes is a good health indicator

You will want to get a liver function test at least once a year to help diagnose and monitor liver disease or damage. The tests measure the levels of certain enzymes & proteins in your blood.  When you get your blood tests back from www.HealthOneLabs.com, it will show if you have tests within the normal range or outside the normal range. Based upon the results, you will want to see your physician to review the tests to determine if you have liver disease

Benefits of a liver function test

  • Diagnostic tool to determine if your liver is functioning correctly
  • Blood tests can show if you have any issues with your liver and should be discussed with your physician
  • Catching liver disease early gives patients the best prognosis
  • Ordering your own lab tests can save you time and money

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Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by blacklegged ticks that are infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

black legged tickA few characteristic symptoms that you may experience if you have Lyme Disease are headache, fatigue, fever, and a rash called erythema migrans. The rash will look similar to a bull’s-eye and a lot of the time the rash will spread in a circular pattern with a lighter center and darker outer ring. Lyme Disease should be treated immediately otherwise the infection could spread to the nervous system, heart, and joints. Most cases can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed on time. If you believe you may have Lyme disease or have been exposed to blacklegged ticks, it is important that you get tested as soon as possible. Lyme Disease Antibodies with reflex testing is offered on our website at https://www.healthonelabs.com/ for $139.75. Remember that it is possible for the test to come back negative during the early stages of Lyme Disease even if the rash is apparent. In this case you should speak to your physician and possibly get retested.

For more information, see the CDC website.


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If you want to take control of your health, save money and get answers quickly, know that you can order your own blood laboratory test via the service on the internet.  Discount blood tests are available to consumers nationwide.

 

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Perhaps you have some symptoms or maybe you just want to test for asymptomatic diseases.  Typcially, you would make an appointment with your doctor, wait in the waiting room, then the examining room, get a perscription for some blood tests and finally going to the patient service center to have your blood drawn.  Next you would wait for the physician’s office to call you with the results, then set up another appointment to discuss them with your doctor.  This process could take days or weeks!

Many people are cutting out the medical middlepersons and ordering their own lab work.  Go to www.HealthOneLabs.com, choose the tests you would like and utilize the secure, HIPPA compliant website and shopping cart.  The process takes less than 5 minutes to order and within a small amount of time you’ll receive the paperwork to take to the lab and have your blood drawn.  Most test results are ready the next day, so you can view your patient-friendly results and schedule a physician’s appointment to discuss them with your doctor; avoiding two appointments, time and money.  Tests prices are much lower since Health One is passing on their volumn discount to their customer.  At this time, insurance is not accepted but since most of the popular tests are only $29-$89, prices are typically lower than what an insured would pay for their co-pay.

Most Popular Tests:

  1. Comprehensive Health Profile – $59 – includes lipid panel, CBC, liver function, kidney function, glucose and more
  2. Men’s Health Value Package – $89 – includes lipids, CBC, liver function, kidney function, glucose, PSA, Urinalysis and more
  3. Women’s Health Value Package – $89 – includes lipids, CBC, liver function, kidney function, glucose, Thyroid panel, Urinalysis and more

 

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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Control the Risk Factors of Heart Disease

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February is National Heart Month and there will be many articles on how to improve your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease.  Note that if you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol is even higher. Some researchers indicate that it is better to get your blood pressure and cholesterol under control then work on your glucose levels.  Check with your physician for the best protocol.

Research shows that you can control one or more of these risk factors if you elicit help from a friend, family member or professional.  Everyone can benefit from these simple choices, so find a partner and see if you can make some healthy choices:

  1. Get regular check-ups to monitor your health
  2. Measure your blood pressure and test lipids (cholesterol)
  3. If you are overweight, take control and start to lose pounds gradually
  4. Take all prescribed medicine as directed
  5. Get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise
  6. Quick smoking
  7. Modify your diet to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish
  8. Read food labels to minimize food high in saturated fats & cholesterol
  9. Limit your salt intake to 2300mg/day.  Most of this comes from processed foods
  10. Drink in moderation – men: 2 drinks/day and women: 1 drink/day

Research also indicates that alternative medicine can be a major factor in meeting goals for a heart healthy lifestyle.  Studies show that massage and acupuncture can reduce stress, reduce blood pressure, assist with smoking cessation and improve circulation and range of motion to help maintain an exercise program.

Do you know your numbers?  There are convenient ways to get your blood pressure and cholesterol (lipid) blood tests done.  Almost every pharmacy has a blood pressure machine and it is a good practice to check your blood pressure often.  Discount blood testing is available to have your lipids checked.  This includes cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL and VLDL.  Test now then make dietary changes and test again.

Other simple ways to incorporate heart healthy lifestyle changes is to

  1. meditate
  2. prioritize and delegate tasks to reduce stress
  3. limit distractions or focus on less stressful events
  4. grill, steam or roast your food
  5. reduce portion sizes – try a smaller plate
  6. exercise in short bursts – 3×10 minute intervals = 30 minutes of recommended exercise and is just as effective

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac

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There’s a lot of media attention regarding gluten free diets.  There has been an increase in the interest in gluten free diets:  new books, new foods, new celebrity promotions.  Is going gluten-free the wave of the future or just a fad?  Is it medically necessary to get better health?

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If an individual has gluten-sensitive enteropathy and sprue, they have celiac disease. Celiac is a chronic disease of the digestive tract that interferes with the digestion and absorption of nutrients from food.  Individuals that have celiac disease cannot tolerate any gluten, the protein commonly found in wheat, rye, barley and oats.  Celiac disease has been diagnosed more frequently, therefore it has gained some recognition in the media.  At the same time, it has been found that some patients that have intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, weight loss and malnutrition, may find improvement from discontinuing gluten from their diet.  Technically, they are diagnosed as having non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

So, what is the difference and how is it diagnosed?

When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food one eats.  It’s an immune disorder triggered by gluten in genetically predisposed group of individuals, estimated as many as 1 in 250 Americans have this disease.  It is more common in people of northern European descent.  Females are more prone to celiac than males.

Gluten intolerance is not an immune disorder, but rather the individual has symptoms similar to celiac that benefit from a gluten-free diet.

There is no single test to definitively diagnose or exclude celiac disease in every person, but it is imperative that diagnostic tests for celiac disease be performed while the patient is on a gluten-containing diet. A specific and sensitive blood test helps screen suspected patients for celiac disease. Patients with a positive test, or a negative test but a high clinical suspicion, should have a small bowel biopsy.  A physician friend believes the stool test is the gold standard to help with diagnosis, although many physicians will use blood serum tests to assist with diagnosis.

Treatment is simple for non-celiac gluten sensitivty and celiac:  a lifelong gluten-free diet.  If you are not gluten sensitive or do not have celiac, having a gluten-free diet does not provide a health benefit.

 


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Vitamin B12 and Folate Blood Tests

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What is Vitamin B12 and Folate?

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient from food we eat that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy.  It also assists with making DNA in our cells.  Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient to prevent anemia.

Folate is a water soluble B vitamin that is found in food and helps create and maintain cells including the DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells.  Folate is used to make red blood cells that prevent anemia and it is also essential for the metabolism of the amino acid, homocysteine.

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Why Would I Need a B12 and Folate Blood Test?

Vitamin B12 and folate blood tests are typically ordered when detecting deficiencies or to help determine the cause of certain anemias.  Malnutrition or malabsorption of these vitamins can stem from people that have

  1. alcoholism
  2. liver disease
  3. gastric cancer
  4. celiac disease
  5. Crohn’s disease
  6. IBS
  7. cystic fibrosis

If the body is not absorbing B12 and folate from the diet or insufficient amounts of these vitamins are not being ingested, then the blood lab test will indicate low levels.

Vitamin B12 and folate tests may be ordered along with a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and homocysteine so a physician can provide a correct diagnosis regarding any low test values that show a deficiency.

What Are the Main Causes of Low B12 or Folate?

  • Insufficient ingestion of foods that contain Vitamin B12 and Folate.  This is very uncommon, but it is more prevalent amongst vegans who do not consume any animal products, including milk and eggs.   Most cereals, breads and other grains are fortified, so even vegans will usually get sufficient intake.
  • Malabsorption occurs with conditions that interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B12 or folate in the small intestine.

What are the Symptoms of Low B12 Levels?

The most common symptom of B12 deficiency is anemia which is typically revealed in a simple Complete Blood Count (CBC) test.  Less severe symptoms include:
  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • shakiness
  • unsteady gait
  • incontinence
  • low blood pressure
  • depression
  • cognitive problems (memory)

What are Symptoms of Low Folate Levels?

Low folate levels may take months before any signs or symptoms appear.  Additionally the symptoms are very general and therefore can be signs of other health issues or diseases.
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches and difficulty concentrating
  • Palpitations
  • Diarrhea
  • In the early stages, the tongue may be red and painful leading to a smooth shiny surface in the chronic stages of deficiency.

Testing for deficiencies is easy, safe and quick.  Get tested to see if you are at risk.

Take Control of Your Health.

Medical Disclaimer:  The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.  The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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People are ordering their own lab tests and it is increasingly popular with those that:

  1. Have high deductible insurance policies
  2. Are uninsured
  3. Want confidentiality so it is not reported to their health insurance carriers
  4. Impatient to see a physician or
  5. Do not want to pay for an office visit for a lab test order/prescription

Since the majority of those that are self ordering blood tests are not health professionals, the common question is whether or not they will be able to decipher the data on their lab results.  Unlike an MRI, sonogram or x-ray, lab results are fairly simple to read.  Each test component is listed along with a (1) reference range, (2) your actual values and (3) a flag notification if your values are outside the reference range.

For instance, if you are testing your blood sugar, or glucose, the test results would look like this:

Glucose High graphic

The person’s Glucose level is 196 mg/dL and is flagged as HIGH because the levels should be within the Reference Intervals of 65-99 mg/dL.   Uric Acid, Serum levels are normal and not flagged since they are within the reference interval provided.  Reference Intervals are based upon gender and age and are constantly being updated for the current recommended standards.

So, generally speaking, the lab test results can be easily read by those that order the test.  It is recommended that you establishes a relationship with a health provider that can review your family history, your lab test results and conduct a physical examination to diagnose and further explain your test results.

Go ahead and order those tests yourself – it’s simple, easy and inexpensive and can provide important health information.

Take Control of Your Health.

 Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints.  The immune system mistakenly starts attacking healthy tissue which can result in permanent joint destruction.   A Mayo Clinic study found that obese individuals were 25% more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.  Naturally, one would think that obese individuals would put more stress on their joints and thereby having increased pain, but the study indicated that it could be the fat cells contributing to RA.

joint image

How do the fat cells affect RA?

We know that obesity rates have risen over the years and so has the incidence of RA and additional studies have shown that the RA drugs are not very effective in obese patients.  It appears that losing weight can have a significant impact on the joints which naturally alleviates the pain and wear and tear on these weight bearing joints.

  1. fat cells are mediators of inflammation; which attack the lining around joints.  Logically, minimizing fat cells should help in minimizing inflammation.
  2. fat cells produce the female sex hormone estrogen and woman are more at risk to developing RA then men as there seems to be a hormone link.

Changing your diet to lose weight could help minimize the number of fat cells and lessen the inflammation surrounding the joints.  Weight seems to be a contributing factor in many diseases and can be controlled.  /

Testing for Autoimmune Diseases such as RA

Many physicians order the following tests to help your physician diagnose autoimmune diseases, but since there are many autoimmune diseases that have similar test results, it is important to have a physician properly review your medical history and symptoms.

  1. Anti Nuclear Antibodies (ANA)
  2. Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
  3. C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
  4. Rheumatoid Factor

ANA – The ANA test identifies the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) in the blood. ANA is a group of special antibodies produced by a person’s immune system when it fails to adequately distinguish between “self” and “nonself.” These autoantibodies attack the body’s own cells. *

ESR – Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is an indirect measure of the degree of inflammation present in the body. *

CRP – C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein made by the liver and released into the bloodstream within a few hours after tissue injury, the start of an infection, or other cause of inflammation.*

Rheumatoid Factor (RF) –  RF is an autoantibody, an IgM (immunoglobulin M) protein that is produced by the body’s immune system. Autoantibodies attack a person’s own tissues, mistakenly identifying the tissue as “foreign.”

Since RA is difficult to diagnose, there is not one test nor physical finding to determine if you have RA.  A physician will normally check your joints for swelling, redness and warmth along with blood tests and maybe even x-rays.

* more details at www.Labtestsonline.org

Medical Disclaimer:  The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.  The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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Urinalysis is examination of the urine by a physician, nurse or lab personnel.  Chemical and microscopic examination of urine is a simple way to determine a large variety of conditions.
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First, the color and clarity are noted.  Ideally urine should be pale yellow and clear.  Darker urine can indicate more concentrated urine and is seen in dehydration.  Usually, this is due to the fact that many people do not drink enough water.  Brownish reddish urine can be a sign of kidney or liver function.

After initial examination, urinalysis consists of assaying the urine’s chemistry.   This consists of testing for the presence of glucose, protein, bilirubin ( a by-product of liver function), pH, ketones, white blood cells and red blood cells.  The presence of glucose is indicative of diabetes, as is the presence of ketones, although ketones in the urine can indicate dehydration, as well.

Microscopic examination of the urine usually follows.  This part of the urinalysis consists of taking a drop of urine on a slide and noting what is present.  Epithelial cells are commonly found, bacteria may be present, red and white blood cells may be present as well as an occasional sperm or crystal.

The presence of red and white blood cells can indicate a urinary tract infection.  If urinary tract infection is possible, the doctor may order a urine culture to determine the cause of the infection and the best antibiotic to treat it.   In kidney disease, casts can be seen. These are rod shaped tubules discarded in the urine if kidney function is declining.

Uric acid, calcium oxalate or triple phosphate microscopic crystals can be seen in gout, kidney stones, or dietary means.  They can be significant or not clinically significant depending on the patient’s overall condition.

Urinalysis has long been used by doctors to assist of many conditions. It is probably the oldest laboratory test, but still vital in diagnosing disease.

Other Urine Tests

  • A qualitative test for pregnancy can be performed on urine.  Qualitative means that it will only detect the presence or absence of the human chorionic gonadotropin, (HCG). Quantitative levels can be determined in blood serum to determine the actual level of HCG, which helps determine how far along a pregnancy is.
  • Drug screening can also be done on urine.
  • The STDs, Trichomonas, Chlamydia & Gonorrhea, can be seen and identified in urine, as well.

Take control of your health!

Medical Disclaimer:  The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.  The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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