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What a blood test can tell you about your health

Here you can find out which blood tests are available, when they are useful and how a blood count helps you lose weight

In many cases, when something is missing or not doing well, your body signals it very obviously. If there is a mineral deficiency, for example, the skin changes. If you keep turning night into day and popping the corks, you feel limp.

But there are also problems that your body cannot reveal to you directly. Or signals that you simply overlook. In many cases, these are the more serious ones. “Numerous diseases do not cause any symptoms at first.

Based on the blood values, experts can see how things are really going with your health. But the blood count not only reveals hidden diseases, but also whether you smoke, drink, have frequent stress and whether your diet is balanced. It is also becoming more and more common to hear that a blood test can even make weight loss easier.

When is a blood test useful?

Basically, it never hurts to know exactly about your own health. But there are situations in which precise knowledge of your own blood values ​​is particularly important:

  • In the case of diffuse complaints : “A blood test can reliably identify risk factors and thus set the course for suitable preventive measures or therapy,” explains Professor von Schrenck. If a patient already has symptoms, the blood test is used to diagnose a certain disease. For example, if the patient feels weak and tired, the diagnosis of anemia / iron deficiency can be made by means of a low ferritin level in the blood.
  • To determine the course of the disease : “In the case of some metabolic diseases, a blood analysis is used to assess the course of the disease,” says the expert.
  • Before operations : A blood test helps to identify possible risk factors or previous illnesses, such as a bleeding disorder. In emergency situations, certain laboratory values ​​(e.g. electrolytes or blood count) provide important information about the patient’s condition and other measures.
  • If diseases are suspected that are initially symptom-free : “A blood test also reveals various sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis B + C, chlamydia and syphilis. These infections often run without symptoms, but can have far-reaching health consequences and dangerous infections enable “, explains von Schrenck.

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What blood tests are there?

In order to record a patient’s blood count, the doctor will order a blood test. For him, she is an important source of information in the diagnosis. In a blood test, the blood is broken down into its components and examined using different methods.

Your blood consists of 45 percent blood cells and 55 percent blood plasma. In a blood count, however, only the blood cells are examined more closely. A distinction is made between a small and a large blood count.

In the small blood count , the red and white blood cells (erythrocytes and leukocytes) and the blood platelets (thrombocytes) are examined. The examination is a routine part of general health care, but is also ordered if anemia, infections or inflammation are suspected. The values ​​indicate whether the blood formation and the oxygen supply are functioning well and whether there are deficiency symptoms. If necessary, the doctor can also have additional values ​​determined, for example liver or kidney values.

Anyone who thinks that the complete blood count would determine many more values ​​is wrong. In contrast to the small blood count, the subspecies of white blood cells (leukocytes) are also examined more closely. Leukocytes are part of the immune system that fights foreign substances and pathogens. Based on the data of the “differential blood count” it can be seen which subspecies is increased in the blood. On this basis, conclusions can be drawn about the causes of certain diseases, for example infections, inflammations, parasite infestation, poisoning or allergies.

Does a blood test help you lose weight?

If you want to lose weight, you should first go the classic way of changing your lifestyle. That means: healthy eating, lots of sport. But what if nothing works while losing weight? Can the blood provide an explanation for the lack of success?

Maybe yes, says the doctor. “After several unsuccessful diets, a blood test is useful to clarify the cause,” advises von Schrenck. Metabolic diseases are partly responsible for the lack of weight loss, for example an underactive thyroid or an overactive adrenal gland. “The blood test brings clarity here,” said von Schrenck.

How do I lose weight after a blood test?

Of course, no weight can be lost just through the blood values ​​alone – unless you suffer from a metabolic disease. In this context, the blood group diet, which was developed by the American naturopath Peter D’Adamo, is heavily criticized by medical professionals.

The theory of the diet concept is based on the fact that everyone should eat according to their blood group. Depending on the blood group, different foods are on the menu. Doctors complain that the theory is not scientifically tenable and that it tends to lead to an unbalanced diet. Then rather lose weight through a healthy diet like in this plan:

A blood test is useful for overweight people regardless of their desire to lose weight, says von Schrenck: “Since they generally have a higher risk of certain metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and lipid metabolism disorders, a test for certain risk factors is recommended, for example blood sugar, HbA1c, Cholesterol, triglycerides and uric acid. So lifestyle adjustments or drug therapy can be initiated if necessary. ”

The most important whistleblowers in the blood include:

  • the blood sugar (provides information about whether diabetes mellitus is present)
  • Blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides (they explain an increased risk of cardiovascular disease)
  • Inflammation parameters (for example C-reactive protein: CRP)
  • Blood salts such as iron, sodium, potassium, or calcium
  • certain enzymes and proteins
  • Metabolic products such as creatinine and urea (they provide important information about kidney function)
  • Hormones, for example from the thyroid gland
  • Blood gases
  • Tumor markers
  • Clotting factors

In order to detect bacteria in the blood or urine (in the case of urinary tract infections) of the patient, a so-called culture is made. To do this, the blood or urine is placed on different nutrient media and it is observed whether pathogens grow well there. In this way, it can be proven whether and which infection the patient is suffering from and whether there is antibiotic resistance.

Can I have a blood test myself?

Usually, a blood test is only done when there is a specific reason, such as a suspected illness. No doctor will arrange a laboratory blood test out of mere curiosity. Your blood values ​​reveal that .

Nevertheless, you can take your health into your own hands: “What many do not know: Blood sampling does not necessarily have to be done by your family doctor. As a private person, you can also contact a laboratory directly and have certain blood tests carried out there. Some medical laboratories offer this already offers special services for quick and convenient blood analysis, sometimes with medical advice, “says von Schrenck. You can find location here, for example .

Can I do a blood test at home?

Blood tests for at home have recently become available, which you can order online. To do this, you order the test you want, take blood from your fingertip and then send the sample to a laboratory. You can then follow the analysis process on your home screen.

What should be considered before a blood count?

Depending on what your doctor wants to find out from the blood sample, there are a few things you should consider before the blood test. If your blood sugar or triglyceride value is to be measured, you must appear sober for the test.

This means that you are not allowed to eat anything for 8 to 12 hours before the blood draw. Water is allowed, including tea without sugar and milk. All sugary drinks falsify the result. You should avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours before the test. You should also avoid intensive exercise before the blood draw, as this could also change the results.

Ask your doctor if you should stop taking certain medications, such as birth control pills, before the test. “With some hormone examinations, daily fluctuations have to be taken into account,” said the doctor.

What are the risks of a blood test?

A blood test is usually risk-free. Blood is usually taken from the crook of the arm. Only in very rare cases can the wound become infected. A bruise (hematoma) forms if the puncture site has not been pinched shut for long enough. Don’t worry: the harmless bruise will quickly fade away.

How much does a blood test cost?

Normally, the health insurance fund pays for laboratory services if these services are arranged by the doctor’s office. However, if there is no specific suspicion or illness, these services are desired services (individual health services: IGeL), which are usually not covered by the statutory health insurance companies. Private health insurances usually cover the laboratory costs.

“Regardless of the insurance status, every patient can make use of laboratory services. The amount of the billing for individual analyzes is transparently defined in the fee schedule for doctors. The costs incurred must then be borne by the patient themselves,” explains Professor von Schrenck.

Whenever your doctor suggests a blood test, you should say yes. Regardless of whether the blood test provides information about possible illnesses or “only” about deficiency symptoms, they can help to improve your quality of life in a targeted manner.

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