Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Blood Work Broken Down


I don't know about you but all the tests the doctors do sometimes they make my head spin. I never kept track of my blood work and how the results fluctuated month to month. I figured "why bother, the doctor will just tell me when some thing is off". I have an amazing team of doctors so this is still pretty much my attitude.

I have made a promise to all in my online support group to educate a spread awareness regarding this disease. I know many are confused with all the monthly blood work, what the results mean, and if they are really necessary. Below I have broken down the tests as best as I can.

Complete Blood Count

why it's done
measures the number of red blood cells (RBC)

measures the number of white blood cells (WBC)

measures the total hemoglobin (carries oxygen in the blood) in blood and each red blood cell

the fraction of blood that contains red blood cells

the size if your red blood cells

measures your platelet (circulate the blood and aids in clotting) count

what results mean
high RBC- dehydration, pulmonary problems, heart problems

low RBC- anemia, autoimmune diseases

high WBC- infection, inflammatory disease, severe emotional stress or physical trauma

low WBC- bone marrow failure, liver, spleen, autoimmune vascular disease

high platelets- blood clots can form

low platelets- excessive bleeding

Antinuclear Antibodies

why it's done
measures the number of antibodies in your blood

what the results mean
ANA appears in those patients with systemic autoimmune diseases

Rheumatoid Factor

why it's done
measures the the IgG (cells that help the immune system fight) and if antibodies have formed

what the results mean
positive results suggest Rheumatoid Arthritis

C-reactive protein

why it's done
detects the systemic inflammatory process, infection, and if you are responding to antibiotic treatment

what the results mean
elevated levels are consistent with an acute inflammatory process

Liver Function Test

why it's done
certain medications used to treat autoimmune diseases metabolize in the liver

what the results mean
elevated levels indicate a backup of medication in the liver

Erythrocyte sedimentation

why it's done
measures inflammation in body

what the results mean
high ESR- anemia, kidney disease, pregnancy, systemic rheumatic conditions

very high ESR- multiple myeloma, vasculitits

lower ESR- congestive heart failure, low plasma protien as in certain liver and kidney diseases

M Component, Paraprotein, Bence Jones Protein
Monoclonal Protein

why it's done
detects the presence of immunoglobulins (antibodies) in B cells which can be associated with inflammation

what the results mean
high levels can indicate an autoimmune deficiency

IgG, IgA, IgM

why it's done
monitors immune deficiencies

what the results mean
decreased levels indicate immune deficiencies

Well there you go! I hope this post was informative and has helped you understand a little more about what your body is telling your doctors each time you get a needle prick in the arm.

* photo provided by http://www.managemypractice.com


  1. Thanks for the info. There is a dizzying number of tests they run. I think my record is 9 vials in one blood draw! Unfortunately for many autoimmune diseases, there is no one definitive test.

  2. I had 15 vials taken one day. I told the phlebotomist to quite pretending to be a vampire, or to pick another victim. :P