CBC & The Big Picture of Your Health
Doctors use a variety of methods to tell whether or not you are suffering from a serious health condition. While they could order x-rays or an MRI to look inside of your body, they may start their exploration of your overall health by ordering a complete blood count or CBC test. You can ready yourself for a CBC test by learning what it is and under what circumstances your doctor may order one for you.
What is a CBC Test?
A CBC is a complete blood count test that is used to evaluate a patient’s overall health. It requires a blood draw that will then be taken and tested in a medical laboratory. It is capable of detecting the presence of diseases including anemia and leukemia.
Specifically, a CBC test will count the components in your blood including the red blood cells that are responsible for carrying oxygen to all parts of your body. It will also count your white blood cells that fight infection, the platelets that help your blood clot, and your hematocrit, which is the ratio of red blood cells to the plasma in your blood.
Depending on what illness or health condition he or she suspects, your doctor could get the results of your CBC test in a matter of hours, or even minutes. Some components of the CBC test take at least 24 hours to determine, however.
Why is a CBC Test Done?
A CBC test can be performed for any number of reasons. Your doctor may order one as part of your routine annual physical. Alternatively, if you come to the doctor’s office or hospital with a high fever, the doctor may order a CBC to determine the underlying cause like of the illness.
A CBC may also be ordered for patients with symptoms like:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Unexplained bleeding
This type of blood test also may be ordered for patients who take prescription medications for chronic conditions. The CBC indicates if the medications are working and if they are found in the correct amounts in the bloodstream.
A CBC blood test helps doctors evaluate the overall health of patients in their care. It can detect the presence of illnesses like cancer, leukemia, and anemia as well as infections. It also monitors the level of medications that patients with chronic illnesses must take on a regular basis.