Getting a medical test can be scary. However, there’s no need to worry about a lab test or also called blood work- they will be taking it with a view to making you healthier or monitoring existing conditions and medication levels to ensure that you are in tip-top health. Work with your doctor to ensure you get the best possible results from your lab test.
Start with communication
Talk with your doctor about the medical test. Know what they are ordering, and what if any special preparation has to go into it. Glucose tolerance testing, for example, requires that you have not eaten before the test and will take a lot of sitting in the lab. Now is also the time to remind your doctor of medications you are already on, and whether you will need to come off of them for a short period before the blood draw. If you have taken OTC medicine, it’s best to mention that too. You should always take responsibility for asking about the needs of the lab test. Don’t presume the doctor will tell you every time.
Prepare what you need for the lab test
Now that you know what you need, it’s important to do it. If your medical test requires you to, for example, refrain from becoming dehydrated or smoking, then make sure you stick to the protocol you have discussed. It’s always a good idea to drink plenty of water before a blood test as it makes the blood draw easier. Increasing skin temperature a little with warmer clothing can also make the blood draw easier. If you did do something outside the protocol you discussed with your doctor, let the phlebotomist [the person collecting the blood] know. Do remember to also mention Latex allergies to them, as many items of medical equipment contain latex. Check here.
What to do mentally
Firstly, don’t stress. Not only is this counterproductive for you, but it can actually effect the blood test results by elevating cortisol. Medical tests are routine and there to help you. If you are afraid of needles, look away. If you have had a particularly painful needle experience, ask for a numbing cream to apply before the draw when you talk to your doctor. If you are the type who like to have all the details, it may be important for you to have the details of the blood test- whether it’s a finger prick or vein draw, how they will do it etc. Deep breaths and other anxiety calming measures can be of a lot of use.
What to do after the medical test
After the test, you will need to eat a light snack if you had to fast prior to the test or if you are particularly susceptible to blood draws. You also need to get an idea of when the tests will be sent through to your physician. Some tests are processed in 24 hours while others require weeks at a specialist laboratory.
Getting a lab test can seem a lot more frightening then it needs to be if you are prepared and informed.