The alphabet soup in your blood

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By Barb Jarmoska

WBC, BUN, SGOT, MCV, MCH, Eos, LDH. What do these letters mean, and what do they have to do with you? Each of these are acronyms for lab tests performed on blood samples during a Complete Blood Count, or CBC. To have such testing done annually is a wise health-maintenance choice.

Every June, the Montoursville Rotary Club, in cooperation with the AMBA Wellness Program of Quest Diagnostic Labs, offers this service without a prescription for just $35. A great deal at about half the price you’d expect to pay elsewhere.

Additional tests are also available, but each of these requires a doctor’s order. Many physicians are happy to comply with your request and will FAX or mail you a prescription upon your request. Optional tests include Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) $25.70, Thyroxine, (T4 thyroid hormone) $11.00, Cardio C-Reactive Protein (CRP) $27.00, and Colon Rectal Kit (to detect blood in the stool) at $20.00. Be sure to phone your doctor if you would like to add any of these to the basic CBC.

The AMBA team sets up at the Montoursville High School on two consecutive Saturdays every June. This year, they’ll be here on the 18th and 25th. Making an appointment is easy – you need only your doctor’s name and the AMBA toll free number, 1-800-234-8888.

Prior to your test, you should fast for at least 13 hours, refraining from all food and beverages except water. I recommend you also discontinue all vitamins and supplements during this time; but do continue to take any prescribed medications.

On the morning of your test, the high school will be teeming with friendly Rotarians and experienced AMBA employees, and you’ll be in and out in no time. I always take along some organic, fresh fruit so I can eat something to bring up my blood sugar for the drive home. The Rotary Club offers juice, coffee, and donuts – but I suggest you pass on these. Caffeine, sugar, white flour, and hydrogenated fat are a dreadful breakfast under any circumstances, much less when you haven’t eaten anything for the previous 13 hours! Do yourself a favor and take along an organic apple.

In about two weeks, a copy of the results will be mailed to your physician. You are sure to be familiar with some of the results listed on your lab report. These include Total Cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), Triglycerides, and Glucose (blood sugar). Other results may be unfamiliar to you. These include the acronyms mentioned above, and many others.

The tests performed on your blood fall into seven basic categories:

  • Coronary health
  • Diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Kidney function
  • Liver health
  • Electrolyte balance
  • Immune function

Each of the tests performed, a total of 37 in all, will list both your test result and the “reference range” for that test, so you can see how your results compare to what would be expected in a healthy person.

The Freshlife wellness team would be happy to help you interpret your test results, especially those you may not be familiar with. We can help with the acronyms used, and let you know which of the diagnostic categories a specific test falls under.

Take that opening line in this article, for example. WBC is white blood count and reflects immune status. SGOT is a liver enzyme that can be elevated when liver disease or excess toxins are present. MCV is mean corpuscular volume. If low, MCV can indicate an iron deficiency; if high, a lack of vitamin B12.

When you get your blood test back, I invite you to phone Freshlife at 570-322-8280 and ask to speak with a wellness coach. We’ll set up a time for you to bring in your blood work and go over the results. We are happy to explain the readings at no charge. Of course, if there are any marked abnormalities, we suggest you phone your doctor right away.

It is valuable to have this testing done annually and to keep the lab results in your files. By doing so, you will have a long-range view of the changes in your readings and be able to track upward or downward trends that may be an indicator of future health problems. When it comes to your health – an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

Make your appointment with AMBA today, and come see us when the results are in. Embrace your best health!

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