Digging Deeper into Lab Results

Today I want to share a common misconception about lab results. Ideally, you should have labs drawn annually if you are "healthy". Anyone with chronic medical problems should have their labs drawn at least twice per year, more often if monitoring medication changes.  Labs work is a tool for building that "big picture" about a patients health.

Being a primary care provider often I end up in casual conversation about health issues with friends and acquaintances. I don't mind this at all. In fact I enjoy helping. Commonly when the subject of lab results comes up people report that they came back as "normal." Unfortunately, the normal value determined by the lab may not be appropriate. What these results typically lack is context. For example, your thyroid tests may be within normal limits while at the same time you have symptoms of hypothyroid such as fatigue, hair loss, depression, constipation and weight gain. Your provider may even say you are fine and then prescribe an antidepressant. Does this address the root cause? Nope. Your TSH could be 4.25 (normal is 0.5-4.5, ideal is close to 1). If your hypothyroid condition is appropriately treated you will feel better and may not need the antidepressant. This is one example of how a "normal" lab value can lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment. At Celebrate Primary Care we take the time to educate our members because your health is our passion. Go to www.celebrateprimarycare.com and click enroll today to sign up.