Chances are, you’ve had a few blood tests in your time. They might have been done as part of a general health check, or maybe it was to look into a health concern or to monitor an existing condition.
While having a traditional blood test is probably one of the least favourite things on our health “to do” list (particularly if you need to visit a local pathology centre), having a blood test is still one of the most common and important ways to monitor our health.
How blood tests help us
A blood test is often one of the first tests you might have done if you see your doctor about a health concern.
Regular blood testing can tell us reasonably quickly how our body is functioning, or if there are any problems developing (or developed) that need attention.
Blood testing is used to:
- Detect and diagnose healthcare conditions, or other problems such as infection and inflammation
- Monitor chronic conditions or diseases
- Check how our organs are functioning, such as kidneys and liver
- Check the levels of any medication in your blood, and whether it’s affecting any organs
- Monitor your risk of developing certain illnesses, such as measuring cholesterol to determine your risk of heart disease, or tracking your average blood sugar levels to show your risk of diabetes.
Don’t put off your tests
If you stayed isolated at home during COVID-19 shutdowns, you might have missed some regular blood tests or delayed seeing your doctor about any symptoms.
A survey by the Continuity of Care Collaboration found that 52% of Australians delayed or avoided a medical appointment in the first half of 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions began.
That’s especially alarming as 89% of respondents said they had one or more ongoing health conditions.
If you have a chronic condition, it’s important to have your regular appointments, tests and scans done on time. You can still see a doctor remotely via telehealth, have electronic prescriptions sent to your local pharmacy, and may be able to have medication home delivered.
If you ever feel like your health condition is worsening or you’re experiencing new symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor straight away.
While it’s normal to feel concerned about contracting COVID-19, remember that strict social distancing and protective measures are in place in hospitals, GP clinics and pharmacies to protect patients and staff from COVID-19.
MyHealthTest offers thyroid and diabetes tests that can be ordered from home, and will soon have a range of other tests available.If you have a chronic disease or new symptoms, don’t put off your test or health check-up. #DontWaitMate Click To Tweet
Blood testing starts from birth
Anyone born in Australia in the last 50 years will have had their first dried blood spot test within days of birth.
All babies born in Australia have a heel prick test within 48 to 72 hours after birth to test for 25 serious genetic conditions, including phenylketonuria (PKU), cystic fibrosis and hypothyroidism.
By detecting serious conditions straight away, doctors can give babies the extra care they need in those early days.
In fact, MyHealthTest’s fingerprick blood test services uses the same technology as heel-prick screening for newborn babies that’s used routinely in Australia to detect rare but serious diseases in newborns.
How blood testing first began
Sophisticated blood spot testing is a long way from the early understanding of diseases and their causes.
Doctors began gaining an understanding of the circulation of the blood in the 1600s, and later in the 1700s observed that diseases originated in different organs and parts of the body.
But it wasn’t until the 1800s that developments in microscope technology and optics allowed scientists to observe cells.
This led to the breakthrough that disease was caused by changes in cells, helping doctors understand the causes of many diseases, and make far more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
With breakthroughs in optical technology in the 1970s, scientists were able to count and identify cells.
We’ve come a long way in the management of disease since then, and a blood test is now one of the first and most commonly used investigations to manage and monitor our health and wellbeing.
Full blood count: the starting point
Some of the more common blood tests include a full blood count, liver function test, thyroid stimulating hormone test and iron studies. You might have had some or all of these.
A full blood count (FBC) test, also known as a complete blood count, is one of the most common blood tests and is often done as a starting point before further investigations.
It shows the levels and sizes of different cells in your blood, including white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and haemoglobin. This shows whether there are any abnormalities, or the need for any further tests.
A FBC test is commonly used to diagnose conditions such as infection, inflammation, anaemia, and clotting or bleeding problems.
Test your blood with a fingerprick test
We’ve come a long way since blood cells were first detected through a microscope.
Not only have blood tests become one of the most common and important ways to monitor our health, but the way blood testing is conducted has also evolved as well.
Lots of people want to have greater control over their health and wellbeing, and better access to their personal health information.
MyHealthTest is proud to be part of that ongoing change, by enabling people to test for common health conditions and monitor their health from home – something that previously could only be done via a traditional bricks and mortar pathology centre.
MyHealthTest’s fingerprick blood test services can detect a range of problems such as pre-diabetes, diabetes and thyroid problems. These blood tests are delivered by a simple at-home fingerprick blood test, which is a popular alternative to a traditional blood test conducted via a needle inserted into a vein at a bricks and mortar pathology centre.
And, like all great healthcare innovators, we too are pushing the boundaries and creating new value for our customers.
In addition to our current range of thyroid and diabetes tests, we’re also developing a new portfolio of home based blood tests. MyHealthTest will be launching new blood tests for hormones such as cortisol, progesterone and testosterone, plus vitamins including Vitamin D and B in early 2021.
Who knows what the next generation of blood testing will look like?