During a routine doctor’s appointment or physical, a primary care physician may perform a number of wellness tests, checks and procedures for you. One of those may be a Complete Blood Count test, or CBC. This is a short test in which your doctor will have a sample of your blood drawn and sent off to a lab for analysis. Here’s why this procedure is so important.
What A Complete Blood Count Test Does
When your blood is drawn for a CBC test and sent off for analysis, the lab technicians who receive it will examine the different component parts of your blood. These are:
- Red blood cells, which contain a protein called hemoglobin that transports oxygen to your cells. A CBC will also test your hematocrit, or the percentage of red blood cells in your blood.
- White blood cells, which fight disease and infection.
- Platelets, which help your blood to clot and control bleeding.
Testing your blood for the quantities of each part will give your physician an idea of your normal state of health. If you have an abnormal amount of one type of blood cell, it can also be a warning sign of a particular wellness issue that may need to be investigated further. Continuing to have these blood tests over time will also alert your doctor in the future to potential problems arising in your body if your blood cell amounts begin to change abnormally. Donating blood is one way to regularly test your blood for free while helping people in need, as many of these measurements are screened during and after the donation process.
What A Complete Blood Count Test Is Used For
A CBC is a great way to test for wellness issues you may not have known about, and is a valuable tool in preventative care. Doctors usually advise getting one of these tests done per year. A CBC will monitor and test for a number of health factors. It can help keep track of your current health state, test for illness and disease so that it can be properly diagnosed and treated, monitor a pre-existing condition and monitor the effectiveness of a particular treatment. Health risks and hazards that may potentially be signalled through a CBC test include but are not limited to:
- Anemia and leukemia
- Deficiencies in vitamins or minerals
- Heart disease
- Bone marrow problems
- Blood disorders
Keep in mind, however, that a CBC test is not definitive proof of anything. It often serves as more of an early warning system to tell your physician whether additional tests are needed or if new lifestyle behaviors need to be adopted to prevent illness.
How to Prepare and What to Expect
Routine blood tests are nothing to stress about. You can eat and drink normally beforehand, especially if your doctor is simply looking for a baseline of your blood’s normal behavior and composition. However, if your doctor is testing for something more specific, you may need to fast for a specified time beforehand. Your doctor will give you the applicable instructions if this is the case.
To perform a blood test, a nurse will have you sit down and will apply a tourniquet or elastic band to your arm. This is done to make the veins fill up with blood. Then the nurse will insert a needle into your arm to draw blood from the vein. This may sting or pinch, but the feeling is momentary. It’s also normal to feel lightheaded from the needle prick and/or the sight of your blood. From there, once the blood is drawn, the nurse will apply a bandage to the area to keep it from bleeding and allow it to heal, and you’ll be on your way. You may experience minor bruising afterwards, but that will soon pass.
A Complete Blood Count Test is just one tool of many that your primary care physician may use to test your overall wellness. But having your blood tested regularly can do a lot of good for your wellness by keeping you aware of what’s going on within your body. You might be able to catch the onset of a major illness early or determine that through a minor lifestyle change, you can prevent or put off the onset of a disease. If you find out early on that you have a disease, you’ll likely be able to get it treated more quickly and more effectively than if you only find out about it through experiencing advanced symptoms.
At Community Access Network, our goal is to help you stay well. If you’re in need of a routine checkup or have health questions that need to be answered, we’re here to help. Contact us today!