These days, if you use an app or online portal to manage your health care, you might get a notification as soon as your lab results are ready. And if you click through to view them (and who doesn’t?) you might see your results without any context or interpretation from your doctor.
Here’s why your doctor orders lab tests
Lab tests can give you a broad overview of your health and provide baseline readings you can compare against in the future. “Lab tests are part of routine preventive care,” Dr. Redding said. Depending on your age, risk factors and overall health, your doctor may order routine tests to watch for specific conditions such as:
In addition, if you have signs or symptoms that might point to a specific health problem, your health care provider can request lab tests that can help with diagnosis.
Here’s what it means if your lab results are in the normal range
A reading in the normal range means your results are considered normal by the standards of the lab that evaluated the test. Different labs may have different ranges they consider normal. That could be due to differences in their equipment or calibrations.
Here’s what it means if your lab results are above or below the normal range
“In many instances, you may fall outside of the ‘normal’ ranges. This does not always mean there is a problem. Often it may simply be your normal,” Dr. Redding said. But sometimes, it could be concerning.
If one or more of your lab results fall in the high or low range, talk to your health care provider. It’s tempting to turn to the internet for information, but your provider knows you and can give you detailed, personalized information that takes your overall health history into account.
Your provider might recommend repeat tests to confirm the results. Lab results can often point to a health problem before you notice any symptoms. So, if your tests uncover a problem, you may be able to take steps to stay healthy before your condition has progressed.
Here’s why you should monitor your lab results over time
Over time, you can see trends in your lab results. Those trends can show you whether a disease could be progressing. With conditions like high cholesterol or diabetes, monitoring your results over time can indicate whether they’re well-controlled. Tight control can help you lower your risk of complications.
The bottom line
Your lab results give you essential insights into your health. It’s important to ask your health care provider any questions you have about them so you can address any concerns right away. If you would like to connect with a primary care provider, visit bannerhealth.com.