A laboratory or lab test is a diagnostic procedure in which a healthcare provider takes a sample of your body fluids, including urine and blood or body tissue, to assess your health. Most of the time, labs, testing & x-rays Greensboro are used to help screen or diagnose a specific condition or disease. Screening helps diagnose diseases before symptoms appear, and other tests monitor a disease or help determine if treatment is effective. Sometimes lab tests provide more general information about your organs and body systems.
How to prepare for a lab test
You should prepare for any lab test by:
- Following all the guidelines or instructions that your health care provider offers
- Informing your provider or lab technician if you didn’t follow the instructions. You want to be completely honest because even a minor change from the instructions can significantly affect the results. For example, certain medications lower or raise blood sugar levels; taking them before a blood sugar test could affect your results.
- Telling your provider about any prescribed or over-the-counter medications you are taking. Don’t forget to include your vitamins or supplements.
What other steps do I need to take in preparation for a lab test?
There is nothing else to do for many lab tests besides answering questions from your provider or lab professional. However, some other lab tests require specific preparations before the test. Fasting is a common lab test preparation; you should not eat or drink anything apart from water for several hours before your test. When you eat, nutrients and other ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream, affecting certain blood test results.
How long you need to fast varies depending on your test. If you need to fast, your provider will inform you about the length of fasting. Below are other common test preparations:
- Do not overeat the day before a test
- Avoid certain foods and drinks such as cooked meat, alcohol, or herbal tea
- Avoid specific behaviors like sexual activity and strenuous exercise
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid certain supplements are medications. Inform your provider about what you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements like fish oil.
Common lab tests that require fasting
Your provider may recommend that you avoid consuming food or drink except water before the following tests.
- Cholesterol levels test
- Blood glucose test
- Calcitonin test
- Triglycerides test
Other tests that require special preparations include:
- Cortisol test. You need to rest a bit before the healthcare provider takes your sample. Eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth are things you should avoid before your test.
- Creatinine test. For this test, you need to fast or avoid cooked meats
- Pap smear. Before this test, women are instructed not to use tampons, douche, or have sex for 24 to 28 hours before the test.
- The Fecal Occult Blood Test requires you to avoid certain foods and medicines.
- 5-HIAA Test. You may need to avoid specific foods like bananas, avocados, eggplants, walnuts, and pineapples.
Talk to your healthcare provider at Triad Primary Care if you have questions or concerns about test preparations.