Diagnostic testing is a valuable tool for managing your health. Blood tests are one of the most common options for diagnostic tests. Quick and informative, a diagnostic blood test may give you essential information that will help you improve everything from your mood to your body fat density. If you're interested in unlocking some of the elusive secrets about your biological makeup, a diagnostic blood test offers a fascinating place to start. Learn more about this process and what it can teach you.
What Is the Difference Between a Screening Test and Diagnostic Test?
When discussing testing procedures, it's important to understand the difference between screening tests and diagnostic tests. These two options seem identical to the patient as the test is performed. When you're having blood drawn, it's impossible to tell from the needle stick whether you're having a screening test or diagnostic blood test. However, there are key differences between the two.
A screening test is a routine test that's often performed as part of an annual physical. Screening tests are for patients with no symptoms and no indicator that anything could be wrong. Insurance copays usually don't apply. Your insurance provider may have specific guidelines as to when screening tests are covered and which tests you may receive coverage for.
Screening tests do not diagnose health problems. Instead of looking for a specific marker that indicates an issue, these tests look for broad ranges. If your results fall within a particular range, this indicates either a higher likelihood of a particular health problem or no problem at all. If a screening test does indicate a potential issue, you will need to have diagnostic testing performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Diagnostic testing serves a specific purpose. This type of test helps your healthcare provider investigate symptoms or abnormalities previously identified. As the name suggests, diagnostic testing is capable of producing a diagnosis. Upon completion, diagnostic tests provide you with a wealth of specific, detailed information about your health. These tests look for very specific numbers rather than broad ranges, so you'll learn more from the results.
Is Screening a Diagnostic Tool?
Screening tests can serve as a diagnostic tool by providing the first clues as to a potential problem. Some health conditions don't produce noticeable symptoms. Even symptomatic individuals may not notice anything abnormal. For example, you may contribute your feelings of fatigue to aging, stress, or a busy schedule without realizing that this is actually a symptom of a treatable thyroid problem.
In cases like this, screening tests become the first step toward obtaining a diagnosis. Once your health care provider notices the abnormality, they can take steps to further investigate it or to begin treatment. In either case, more targeted diagnostic tests will probably follow to track your progress with a particular treatment or to better understand what's ailing you.
How Does Diagnostic Blood Testing Work?
Diagnostic blood testing looks for specific markers of disease and body function. Though you may use it more as a screening tool to assess your overall health regardless of symptoms, this type of test is inherently diagnostic because it will produce a detailed diagnosis.
Diagnostic blood testing can provide detailed information regarding your:
- Performance hormones.
- Thyroid function.
- Cardiovascular wellness.
- Reproductive health.
- Liver and kidney function.
- Systemic inflammation.
- Advanced nutrients and minerals.
- Digestive function.
- Food sensitivities.
- Gut microbiome.
These types of tests dig deep to discover the root cause of any symptoms that you might be experiencing, such as fatigue, poor digestion, weight gain, and more.
How Much Blood Does Diagnostic Testing Require?
The amount of blood required for diagnostic testing varies depending on the tests that you're having done. Even a single finger prick of blood can provide fascinating insights about your health and body. A finger stick blood test can measure your hemoglobin A1C, ketone, lactate, and glucose levels.
Many companies are working on developing technology that will provide more extensive information from a finger prick. In fact, Babson Diagnostics raised $13.7 million in funding in 2020 to develop technologies that will make it possible to analyze capillary blood samples with just a tenth of the volume usually required with venipuncture.
For now, most diagnostic blood testing requires one or more small tubes of blood. A full blood count only takes 1 ml. When combined with an ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate), the test requires 2.5 ml. Most chemical tests only require 2.5 ml of blood as well. If you're having extensive blood work done, you may need to give up to 30ml of blood. Though this may seem like a lot, it's actually only a fraction of what your body can give. When donating blood, you will typically give about a pint, which is close to 500 ml.
Who Needs Diagnostic Blood Testing?
Diagnostic blood testing is a great option for anyone who's interested in learning more about their health. Your blood contains the answers to a vast range of questions that you may have about your body. A blood panel can help you better understand things about your:
- Immune function.
- Risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
- Bone density.
- Energy levels.
- Mental function.
- Bodyweight, particularly if you're overweight or underweight.
- Risk for cancer.
With this information in hand, you can take simple, actionable steps to improve your health. Something as easy as taking the right supplements or adjusting your diet could yield dramatic results. Without diagnostic blood testing, you may never find the keys to unlock your greatest possible health. Diagnostic blood testing can prove useful for anyone.
If you're interested in diagnostic blood testing, our team at the biostation can help. We typically begin with performance panel blood work. If the results from this indicate a need for further testing, we also offer specialty testing that will help you delve deeper. Take advantage of the benefits of early detection and proactive healthcare with a complete panel of information that tells you exactly what you need to improve your health. Contact us to learn more about diagnostic blood testing and make your appointment now.