health

6 Questions You Should Always Ask When You Get Your Blood Test Results

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is the Senior Editor of Branded Content at Wild Sky Media. She grew up in upstate New York and Oregon and now lives in Queens, NY. Ileana graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in sociology. After graduating, she attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, then worked as in marketing at Oxford University Press. Since transitioning to editorial, she has written for BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Woman's World. She has also worked for local newspapers and magazines in upstate New York. In her free time, you can find Ileana watching Law & Order: SVU, eating ice cream, and spending time with her dog.

For many people, the worst part about an annual physical with a doctor is the dreaded blood tests.

A lot of people hate needles, and since blood tests often require needles to stay in your arm, they’re worse than just normal needles.

In fact, so many people struggle with shots and blood tests that nurses may ask whether you need to lie down or have a snack.

Not only are the needles themselves scary, but the process itself isn’t exactly welcoming, either: They tie off your arm with a latex tourniquet, prod around for your veins, then finally insert the needle in your arm.

With all the stress of getting your blood drawn, many people completely forget there are questions they should ask their doctor about their upcoming results.

On the other hand, some people don’t even know that there are questions they should be asking. (I’m definitely guilty of this!)

If you fall into either of these categories, keep reading to find out which questions you should always ask your doctor about your blood tests.

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Are Blood Tests Important?

what are blood tests?
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If you’re going in for your first blood test, don’t stress!

Blood tests are very common and routine for many doctors to perform. They’re also very important to your overall health!

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, blood tests are an easy way for doctors to check for diseases, conditions, and organ functionality.

During a blood test, a doctor will take a small blood sample using a needle or prick of the finger — then the blood is sent to a lab to be analyzed.

How Often Should You Get Blood Tests Done?

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For most people, blood tests don’t need to be done more than once a year.

During your yearly physical exam, your doctor or nurse may perform any blood tests they deem necessary.

Because it’s up to your doctor (and the symptoms you tell them about) to decide which tests to do, they may choose a simple finger-prick test instead of a full-blown arm-vein test.

What Can Be Found In A Blood Test?

what blood tests test
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Blood tests can check for a wide range of problems. But most will look at your hormone levels, blood sugar levels, and blood cell count.

The most common blood test is the complete blood count, or CBC, but another common test is the basic metabolic panel.

The basic metabolic panel checks your electrolyte, calcium, and glucose levels. These can tell you about the health of your kidney, liver, and heart.

There are a variety of other blood tests doctors can do as well, and they should tell you what they’re testing for.

Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor About Your Blood Tests

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Because your doctor will individualize your blood tests, it’s important to know what to ask them.

Instead of going into your doctor’s appointment with a million questions that you’ll immediately forget as soon as you see a needle, write down some questions beforehand (or keep this article open on your phone!).

Depending on your age, gender, conditions, symptoms, and family history, your doctor may run a variety of different tests.

1. What Was I Tested For?

what are you testing for
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As previously stated, there are a variety of different tests your doctor might run, and they could be checking for a number of things.

For this reason, the most important question you can ask before your blood test is what exactly your doctor is testing for and what results you should be expecting.

Knowing more about the tests will help you prepare for any possible results.

2. Is Anything Abnormal?

is anything abnormal
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Once you’ve gotten your test results, there’s a good chance they look something like a list of numbers, letters, and “positive/negative.”

But what does all of that mean?

When you receive your results from your doctor, ask them if anything is abnormal and if there’s anything you can do to remedy the issue.

3. Do My Results Match Up With My Family History?

family history blood tests
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One of the most important things you can do when you start going to a new doctor is let them know everything you can about your family history.

Usually, we rush through those entry forms the front desk assistants give us, but it’s important to be thorough about your family’s medical history.

After your blood test, ask your doc if your results match with what they’d expect, given your family history, as well as whether there’s anything you should worry about.

4. Do My Results Explain Any Symptoms I'm Experiencing?

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If you’ve been experiencing any unusual symptoms — headaches, fatigue, nausea, etc. — you blood tests may be able to explain those symptoms.

Even if you didn’t tell your doctor about your symptoms before your blood test, it’s worthwhile to ask about your symptoms afterwards.

5. Are There Any Lifestyle Changes I Need To Make?

blood test lifestyle changes
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Yearly blood tests are helpful for detecting any problems like diseases. But they’re also for spotting any issues that may lie ahead for you down the road.

If there’s anything about your blood test results that are cause for concern, your doctor can recommend some lifestyle changes that can help!

For example, if your blood tests find that you’re anemic, you can add more iron-rich foods to your diet.

6. Should I Follow Up On These Test Results?

blood test follow up
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The last question you should always ask your doctor about your blood test results is: Do I need to follow up on these results?

If anything is abnormal, you may need additional tests or screenings — make sure to ask your doctor if you should set up future appointments.

Are there any questions you always ask your doctor before or after blood tests?

If you’re going to ask your doctor these questions next time you get blood tests, please SHARE this article with your friends!