Lab Testing 101: What to Know Before You Go

A woman takes a deep breath to stay calm during a lab test
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If your doctor has ordered a lab test, you might have some feelings of worry or apprehension. Whether it’s a fear of needles or general anxiety about what your results will be, it’s normal to have some level of resistance about what’s ahead. But there is hope to shift your outlook and feel more empowered by learning more about your lab test and how to be prepared with the facts.

The Facts about Lab Tests

Lab tests play one of the most important roles in directing your health care. They allow your doctors to get a glimpse inside your body by measuring specific indicators for keeping you well and if necessary, diagnosing, treating and monitoring a disease or conditions. Lab tests can also assist your doctor in discovering changes in your health by comparing your routine results over time.

The key player in getting this valuable information to your doctor is your trusted medical lab, like AdventHealth lab services.

The lab is responsible for taking samples of your blood, urine or body tissues and analyzing them to see if they fall within normal, healthy ranges. These results are then reported to your doctor.

The interesting thing about lab tests results is that they vary from person to person, and results can be influenced by several factors, including:

  • Gender, age and race
  • Diet
  • Medications
  • Compliance with pre-test instructions

This is why it is so important to understand what lab tests you are receiving, and to closely follow the instructions that are provided by your doctor or lab before your test.

To feel better prepared, here are some questions to ask your doctor about your next lab test, as recommended by the American Association of Clinical Chemistry:

  • Why does this test need to be done? How could it change the course of my care?
  • What do I need to know or do before the test?
  • What happens during and after the test?
  • How much will the test hurt or be an inconvenience? What are its risks?
  • How long will the test take? When will results be available?
  • Where do I need to go to take the test? Is there a "good" time to schedule the test?
  • What are normal results? What do abnormal results mean?
  • What factors may affect the results?
  • What course of action may be next, after the test?

How to Cope with Lab Test Anxiety

Now that you know more about lab tests and why they are important, let's talk about ways to cope with any apprehension you might be feeling.

If you experience a fear of needles or general anxiety about lab tests, try these relaxation techniques to help you take control over your feelings and get through your test like a champ.

Focus on Your Breathing

Focus your attention and energy on your breathing using some deep breathing techniques. Try taking three slow breaths, counting to three with each inhale and then breathing out slowly through your mouth while counting to six. To get a deeper breath, allow the air you breathe in to fill and extend your stomach, releasing it as you breathe out slowly.

Relax Your Body

Consciously relax all of the muscles in your body to release stress and tension. You can do this progressively, starting with all of the muscles in your head and work your way down to your toes.

Focus on Something Positive

Envision a pleasant place or image in your mind, or find a focal point in the room to keep your mind focused and away from anxious thought.

Find a Pleasant Distraction

You can count silently to ten, or talk to your lab technician about something positive to keep your mind off of the lab test. Before you know it, the test will be over.

Communicate Your Needs

If you have any questions about your test, call your doctor or lab to get the information you need before the day of your test. Feeling knowledgeable and prepared can help you feel confident in your test and empowered in your health care journey.

If you have questions about your next lab test, turn to your nearest AdventHealth lab location. We’re here to support you and your whole-person care and make it easier for you to schedule your appointments online.

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