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Taking A Closer Look, Part 2: Commonly Ordered Blood Tests

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As we highlighted last week, there are numerous blood tests that can aid your doctor in diagnosing and/or monitoring your unique health issue. Let’s take a look at some other commonly ordered blood tests.

test tube imagesAutoimmune disease tests

Autoimmune diseases are a group of conditions in which the immune system incorrectly attacks the body’s own normal, healthy tissues. Some commonly known autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, celiac disease, and psoriasis. The autoimmune disease blood tests measure specific antibodies produced by the immune system to attack specific bodily tissues. A few example tests include:

  • Rheumatoid factor (RF): This test detects and measures the RF antibody in the blood. The presence of RF indicates inflammatory and autoimmune activity.
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA): Ordered when a patient shows signs and symptoms that are associated with systemic lupus erythematosus or another autoimmune disorder.
  • Thyroid antibody: Primarily used to help diagnose an autoimmune thyroid disease and to differentiate from other forms of thyroiditis. It may be ordered to investigate the cause of a goiter, or it may be performed as a follow-up when other thyroid test results (such as T3, T4, and/or TSH) show signs of thyroid dysfunction.

Blood sugar (plasma glucose)

This is the test performed to diagnose diabetes or assess known diabetes patients. Plasma glucose can be tested in two manners: fasting (FPG) or casual (CPG). Tests taken on blood drawn from an arm vein are more accurate than blood from a finger pick test, also called capillary blood glucose.

Sometimes several plasma glucose tests are done over a period of a few hours. This is called a blood sugar series and is usually done to test how well established diabetes patients are able to control their sugar levels.

Plasma glucose sometimes is measured at defined times after the patient drinks a specific amount of glucose in water. This is done either to confirm a diabetes diagnosis (known as the glucose tolerance test [GTT]) or as a screen for gestational diabetes during pregnancy (known as the glucose challenge test).

>> Related: Learn about the Hemoglobin A1c test for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes. (LINK to this blog if it has been posted)

Disease marker tests

Disease marker blood tests monitor the levels of specific chemicals in the blood, which indicate the progress of certain diseases.

  • Prostate specific antigen (PSA): Perhaps the best known of the disease marker tests. Many men with prostate cancer will have elevated levels of PSA in their blood, however, a PSA level within the normal ranges does not mean that prostate cancer is not present. Also, some men with prostate cancer have normal PSA levels.
  • Alpha fetoprotein (AFP): There are two versions of this disease marker test–one is used to monitor for liver cancer; the other monitors testicular cancer.
  • Cancer antigen (CA) 125: Can help detect the presence of ovarian tumors and is used to monitor the progress in ovarian cancer.

Single blood tests

There are a handful of tests that your doctor may order singly. A few examples…

  • Beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG): This hormone is produced and is present in the blood in early pregnancy (just one week after conception). It is the basis of the urine pregnancy tests, however sometimes the hCG blood levels are measured if there is a concern about a potential ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy.
  • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH): Can aid in the diagnosis of pituitary disorders or diseases involving the ovaries or testes. FSH is used to help determine the reason a man has a low sperm count and is also useful in the investigation of menstrual irregularities. In children, FSH and luteinizing hormone are used to diagnose delayed or precocious (early) puberty. Consistently high levels of FSH in a woman can indicate the onset of menopause.
  • Serum Amylase: This is typically ordered for people experiencing severe abdominal pain to see if the pancreas gland is inflamed or if its duct is obstructed.

Two websites to take advantage of our discount online blood testing:

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through HealthOne by using our convenient search feature. >>

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through InquireLabs by using our convenient search feature. >>


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Posted in autoimmune, diabetes, disease, Inflammation


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