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Facade's avatar

Can you help me with questions I have about medical lab results?

Asked by Facade (22833 points ) June 18th, 2011

So I got some lab work done. They were supposed to test my blood in general and also my thyroid function. I just received some results in the mail. The results say that my white blood cell count is low and that my kidney function is mildly abnormal. They also mention my blood sugar levels.
There’s nothing about my thyroid in these results.
I just had it done a couple days ago, so do you think that they’ll send me the info about my thyroid at another time? Should I try to contact my doctor about why they did these other tests and when I will know about my thyroid?
They recommended that I call my physician for an appointment, which I’ll do, but I’m hoping to gain some feedback sooner than Monday as I’m kind of nervous about all this.

Thanks.

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36 Answers

WasCy's avatar

It’s not at all up to you to interpret your lab results. Your physician will certainly do that for you and answer any questions that you have (or you should have another physician!).

But it wouldn’t hurt to check sites like WebMD.com, for example, to see what questions you might want to be asking your doctor.

Good luck. Try to relax; it’s your doctor who has to do the interpretation and decide on a course of treatment. Your main job will be to understand what is said (or to ask questions until you do), and then either agree to that course of treatment and follow it, or seek another opinion. (Which may not be a bad idea in any case, if the prognosis or treatment seems complex, dangerous, or uncertain.)

Facade's avatar

@WasCy Thanks, but that’s not really what I meant. There’s nothing on the paper about my thyroid. I wondering whether or not they just decided to do other tests, or if my thyroid results are coming; something of that nature. I guess I was hoping some people here have had experience with LabCorp and could tell me about how they release results.

Lightlyseared's avatar

A blood test (full blood count and metabolic panel) can give you 40 plus results. As a general rule people are only interested in the ones that fall outside the normal range so I would imagine they have only given you those results. If you want the results of the others you could contact the lab for them.

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade Did they send you the whole copy of your lab work, or did your doctor just tell you what he is possibly worried about or wants to keep an eye on? Your thyroid would be TSH maybe T3 or T4 free. It is very important you see your stults that fall in the normal ranges also. TSH has a normal range of somethng like .5–5, but endocrinologists would never be happy with 5 it is considered hi, and in fact there has been discussion of the labs changing the range. If your TSH is over 3.5–6, or under 1, I would have it retested in a couple months to see where it moves to, if it moves. Over 6, retest in 3 weeks before deciding to possibly go on medication or seeing an endocrinologist at minimum.

Sugar problems affect your kidneys, so that is very important, that also would be treated by an endocrinologist if you decide to see a specialist. I think you should.

Facade's avatar

@JLeslie It’s weird. It’s just a sheet of paper with handwritten stuff on it. Kind of like fill-in-the-blank. It gave me my percentage for “hemoglobin A1c,” which I’m not worried about. It also says, under “other lab test,” that my WBC is low and my kidney function is “mildly abnormal.” That’s all. I definitely want to see the entire write up.

JLeslie's avatar

I was going to add low white blood count can sometimes indicate some autoimmune diseases. Some of those diseases have low blood sugar as a symptom too. Did they test Westegren/ESR? That would be a rheumatologist.

Facade's avatar

The lady at Lab Corp tore up the original prescription for the tests, and I don’t remember all of what they did…

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, ok. I hate doctors who do that. But, it is not unreasonible for the doctor to ask you to come in, since this is a mystery, and he may want to order further tests. Usually I call doctors crooks for making patients come in for lab test results, but this is different. Write down whatever questions you have like “was my thyroid tested?” Because if there is some cause for concern you will likely be a little thrown by what the doctor is telling you, and easily forget to ask questions you think of over the weekend. Also, not sure when you will get your follow up appointment? Did they say you can come in Monday? Or just call for an appointment? When you call, if you are going to have to wait long to see the doctor, tell her you want a copy of all the lab work faxed to, or if his office is nearby tell them you will pick it up.

JLeslie's avatar

Was the sugar high or low? Were you fasting?

JLeslie's avatar

Also, labcorp releases results however the doctor orders it. He gets a choice of results all at once when all results are done, or to receive results as they are found.

Facade's avatar

@JLeslie Great advice; I’ll do that stuff. The percentage is 5.8, which is .1 over normal. I looked into the test online, and it mentioned that the results can be skewed if there are any abnormalities with the persons hemoglobin. My hemoglobin are smaller than normal, so that leads me to believe that my results were higher than they should be. I wasn’t fasting, but I hadn’t eaten before the testing.

And that’s good to know about the results.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok, so that does not sound bad at all. :) Something to keep an eye on for sure. The percent was regarding the blood cells? Or, which thing? What is the sugar number? Sugar range might be different for fasting and not, so if they checked you were not fasting, the result could be normal actually. For a while a doctor had me down as a male, which would be problematice for testing some hormones. My results might be normal for a woman in estrogen, but way off for a man.

Facade's avatar

They didn’t give me a number, just the hemoglobin A1c percentage. And yea, that’s one good thing I guess =)

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, the hemoglobin was the percent. I have a feeling that means nothing for you since there is a possible known genetic blood thing going on there.

Facade's avatar

Yea, I’ll definitely need clarification on everything from my doctor

Lightlyseared's avatar

hemoglobin A1c is a test that shows the average blood sugar over the last 120 days (sort of). It’s used to see how well controlled blood sugar levels are in some one with diabetes.

5.8% is fine. The normal for a non diabetic is between 4–6%

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade It is going to become very important for you to start keeping a copy of your lab records, and being in tune with your “normal” numbers. This way if you change doctors in the future, you can look back easily and see if there is a lot of movement. It will also help you know if there is a correlation between to when you feel great or like shit, and lab results. This way when you have certain symptoms you will know to get labwork or change something.

For instance, I know when my muscles start cramping and weakening, and my hair starts following out I need to have my thyroid tested again. I go in for unscheduled tests probably twice a year, because I know something is whacky, but I don’t change my meds until I see my results. Also, my iron gets very low, which affects my muscles too.

JLeslie's avatar

Do you eat well? At least three meals a day? Some veggies in your diet.

JLeslie's avatar

With what @Lightlyseared wrote I looked it up also, and it seems up to even 7% is normal, maybe it depends on the range of the particular lab. Nothing seems very worrisome, but I think it is very good you are aware of these things now. Maybe the doctor will do some additional sugar tests or kidney.

Facade's avatar

@Lightlyseared They actually changed it to 4–5.7%. I noticed the person who filled out the paper made the correction.

@JLeslie My eating habits are poor because I’ve been completely turned off to most foods for the past few weeks. It’s hard for me to swallow food that I don’t absolutely love without gagging, so I haven’t been eating much. It’s been very frustrating. I don’t eat much junk, and when I do, I make it myself. My sugar is high because I’ve been indulging more than usual for the past several weeks. I probably eat one actual meal per day and no more than 1000 calories if I had to guess. On the bright side, I start my morning with a fruit/veggie smoothie with vitamin/mineral powder and greek yogurt. I’ve only been doing that for about a week, but I’ll definitely continue since I’ve had no issues with drinking smoothies.

JLeslie's avatar

Hard to swallow because of a physical problem in your throat? Or your desire for food is completely whacked? Thyroid can cause an obstruction in the throat and make swallowing very difficult.

JLeslie's avatar

1000 calories is nothing. No wonder you might feel weak. There is no way that is enough calories or nutrients for you. Unless you are only 4’11”.

Facade's avatar

Both, now that you mention it. But the physical part isn’t hat bad at all, it’s mostly the fact that I don’t feel like eating, even when I’m starving. And for me, being hungry makes my body shut down (or so it seems).
I’m 5’2 and that size over there <<<
I figure as long as I take my vitamins and minerals, I’ll be ok…

JLeslie's avatar

Even if you eat poorly, it is best to have at least three meals a day. Even if it is snickers bars.

Facade's avatar

Well I do love to bake and eat cake lol =)
Most days I’ll have my smoothie in the morning, and then struggle with finding something to eat that’s not repulsing until around dinner where we’ll have fish or chicken with a veggie and starch. It’s the middle of the day when eating is the hardest. I tend to binge on sweets at night, but I’m gonna stop doing that, especially with these results.

JLeslie's avatar

No, it is not ok. Have you lost a lot of weight? Carbs feed your nervous system, give you energy, and more. Protein builds muscle and many more things. If you do not get enough calories your body begins to break down the muscles you already have, and other parts of your body to keep your brain, heart and other vital organs healthy sacrificing the lesser needed parts of your body for survival.

JLeslie's avatar

Are your stressed? Very anxious lately?

Facade's avatar

I’ve lost a lot of muscle mass due to inactivity (working on that as well), but not actual weight. I’ve never been a big eater, even as a kid.
Very stressed, anxious, all of that. I’m pretty sure my lack of appetite is psychological.

So If I don’t eat enough, my body will break down organs as well as muscles? Ugh, sooo frustrating.

JLeslie's avatar

It will do its best to keep your organs functioning well, but suck nutrients from other parts of your body like bone and muscle to keep you stable so to speak.

Do you take any antianxieties? Xanax will probably give you your appetite back. But it is addictive you need to be careful.

Facade's avatar

I’m not taking any meds. And I don’t want any medication. It always fucks up my body. I just got over an allergic reaction to Wellbutrin that I didn’t want to be on in the first place. I’m done with meds.
I usually smoke the mary jane if I’m having trouble eating. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m about to go try it now…
Thanks you guys for talking with me about this, especially @JLeslie!

JLeslie's avatar

One of the biggest problems with having a low apetite is it usually makes it even harder to eat healthy stuff. Dyring times like this usually the things we are willing to eat is the crap, and we tend to kind of binge and starve in a bad pattern. I’m sorry to hear you are having a tough time with it all right now. It will straighten out. I think some talk therapy might help you sort through some things. For sure you will feel better in the future I know it. This is one of those things. You are in a typically very stressful time in life. Going to school, young, I know you were questioning your relationship. All very understandable.

Facade's avatar

@JLeslie Yea, I’ll get through it. It just sucks right now…

Kayak8's avatar

I recently had thyroid testing through Lab Corps. They run thyroid tests as reflexive and run thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) first and will run additional tests only if TSH is in abnormal range.

Kayak8's avatar

So what did the doctor say?

Facade's avatar

Thanks @Kayak8 ; I completely forgot to update… Well I got the real test results a few days ago. My thyroid is fine. But my white blood cell count low, and the red is high. The subcategories I guess they’re called that of WBC are low as well. Along with that, my BUN/Creatinine ratio is high. I have an appointment in July to discuss this with a doctor, and I hope whatever is wrong with me is nothing serious and that it’s treatable…
I’d give you guys the actual numbers but I don’t really feel like talking about it in depth because it makes me sad. Plus, I’d have to dig it out of our files… But thanks for the concern =)

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