Sweat Test for Cystic Fibrosis: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

What is a sweat test?

A sweat test measures the amount of chloride, a part of salt, in Sweat. It is used to diagnose cystic fibrosis (CF). People with CF have a high level of chloride in their sweat.

CF is a disease that causes mucus build-up in the lungs and other organs. It damages the lungs and makes it hard to breathe. It can also lead to frequent infections and malnutrition. CF is an inherited disease, which means it is passed down from your parents, through genes.

Genes are parts of DNA that carry information that determine your unique traits, such as height and eye color. Genes are also responsible for certain health problems. To have cystic fibrosis, you must have a CF gene from both your mother and your father. If only one parent has the gene, you will not get the disease.

Other names: sweat chloride test, cystic fibrosis sweat test, sweat electrolytes

What is it used for?

A sweat test is used to diagnose cystic fibrosis.

Why do I need a sweat test?

A sweat test can diagnose cystic fibrosis (CF) in people of all ages, but it’s usually done on babies. Your baby may need a sweat test if he or she tested positive for CF on a routine newborn blood test. In the United States, new babies are usually tested for a variety of conditions including CF. Most sweat tests are done when babies are 2 to 4 weeks old.

An older child or adult who has never been tested for CF may need a cystic fibrosis sweat test if someone in the family has the disease and/or has symptoms of CF. These include:

  • Salty-tasting skin
  • Frequent coughing
  • Frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Trouble breathing
  • Failure to gain weight, even with a good appetite
  • Greasy, bulky stools
  • In newborns, no stools made right after birth

What happens during a sweat test?

Your health care provider will need to collect a sample of sweat for testing. The entire procedure will take about an hour and will probably include the following steps:

  • A health care provider will put pilocarpine, a medicine that causes sweating, on a small area of the forearm.
  • Your provider will place an electrode on this area.
  • A weak current will be sent through the electrode. This current makes the medicine seep into the skin. This may cause a little tingling or warmth.
  • After removing the electrode, your provider will tape a piece of filter paper or gauze on the forearm to collect the sweat.
  • Sweat will be collected for 30 minutes.
  • The collected sweat will be sent to a lab for testing.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a sweat test, but you should avoid applying any creams or lotions to the skin for 24 hours before the procedure.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is no known risk to a sweat test. Your child may have a tingling or tickling sensation from the electric current, but should not feel any pain.

What do the results mean?

If the results show a high level of chloride, there is a good chance your child has cystic fibrosis. Your health care provider will probably order another sweat test and/or other tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis. If you have questions about your child’s results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a sweat test?

While there is no cure for cystic fibrosis (CF), there are treatments available that help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. If your child was diagnosed with CF, talk with your health care provider about strategies and treatments to help manage the disease.

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Porphyrin Tests: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What are porphyrin tests?

Porphyrin tests measure the level of porphyrins in your blood, urine, or stool. Porphyrins are chemicals that help make hemoglobin, a type of protein in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.

It’s normal to have a small amount of porphyrins in your blood and other body fluids. But too much porphyrin may mean you have a type of porphyria. Porphyria is a rare disorder that can cause serious health problems. Porphyria is usually divided into two categories:

  • Acute porphyrias, which mainly affect the nervous system and causes abdominal symptoms
  • Cutaneous porphyrias, which cause skin symptoms when you are exposed to sunlight

Some porphyrias affect both the nervous system and the skin.

Other names: protoporphyrin; protoporphyrin, blood; protoporhyrin, stool; porphyrins, feces; uroporphyrin; porphyrins, urine; Mauzerall-Granick test; acid; ALA; porphobilinogen; PBG; free erythrocyte protoporphyrin; fractionated erythrocyte porphyrins; FEP

What are they used for?

Porphyrin tests are used to diagnose or monitor porphyria.

Why do I need a porphyrin test?

You may need a porphyrin test if you have symptoms of porphyria. There are different symptoms for the different types of porphyria.

Symptoms of acute porphyria include:

Symptoms of cutaneous porphyria include:

You may also need a porphyrin test if someone in your family has porphyria. Most types of porphyria are inherited, meaning the condition is passed from parent to child.

What happens during porphyrin testing?

Porphyrins can be tested in blood, urine, or stool. The most common types of porphyrin tests are listed below.

  • Blood Test
    • A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
  • 24-Hour Urine Sample
    • You will collect all your urine during a 24-hour period. For this test, your health care provider or laboratory will give you a container and specific instructions on how to collect your samples at home. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully. This 24-hour urine sample test is used because the amounts of substances in urine, including porphyrin, can vary throughout the day. So collecting several samples in a day may give a more accurate picture of your urine content.
  • Random Urine Test
    • You can provide your sample at any time of day, with no special preparations or handling needed. This test is often done in a health care provider’s office or a lab.
  • Stool Test (also called protoporphyrin in stool)
    • You will collect a sample of your stool and place it in a special container. Your health care provider will give you instructions on how to prepare your sample and send it to a lab.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for blood or urine tests.

For a stool test, you may be instructed to not eat meat or take any aspirin-containing medicines for three days prior to your test.

Are there any risks to porphyrin tests?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

There are no known risks to urine or stool tests.

What do the results mean?

If high levels of porphyrin are found in your blood, urine, or stool, your health care provider will probably order more tests to confirm a diagnosis and to find out what kind of porphyria you have. While there is no cure for porphyria, the condition can be managed. Certain lifestyle changes and/or medicines can help prevent the symptoms and complications of the disease. Specific treatment depends on the type of porphyria you have. If you have questions about your results or about porphyria, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about porphyrin tests?

While most types of porphyria are inherited, other types porphyria can also be acquired. Acquired porphyria can be caused by a variety of factors, including overexposure to lead, HIV, hepatitis C, excess iron intake, and/or heavy alcohol use.

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Ketones in Blood: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a ketones in blood test?

A ketones in blood test measures the level of ketones in your blood. Ketones are toxic substances that your body makes if your cells don’t get enough glucose (blood sugar). Glucose is your body’s main source of energy.

Ketones can show up in blood or urine. High ketone levels may indicate diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a complication of diabetes that can lead to a coma or even death. A ketones in blood test can prompt you to get treatment before a medical emergency occurs.

Other names: Ketone bodies (blood), serum ketones, beta-hydroxybutyric acid, acetoacetate

What is it used for?

A ketones in blood test is mostly used to check for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in people with diabetes. DKA can affect anyone with diabetes, but it is most common for people with type 1 diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make any insulin, the hormone that controls the amount of glucose in your blood. People with type 2 diabetes can make insulin, but their bodies don’t use it properly.

Why do I need a ketones in blood test?

You may need a ketones in blood test if you have diabetes and symptoms of DKA. DKA symptoms include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry or flushed skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fruity smell on breath
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

What happens during a ketones in blood test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

You may also be able to use an at-home kit to test for ketones in blood. While instructions may vary, your kit will include some kind of device for you to prick your finger. You will use this to collect a drop of blood for testing. Read the kit instructions carefully, and talk to your health care provider to make sure you collect and test your blood correctly.

Your health care provider may order a ketones in urine test in addition to or instead of a ketones in blood test to check for diabetic ketoacidosis. He or she may also want to check your A1c levels and blood glucose levels to help monitor your diabetes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a ketones in blood test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

A normal test result is negative. This means no ketones were found in your blood. If high blood ketone levels are found, it may mean you have diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If you have DKA, your health care provider will provide or recommend treatment, which may involve going to the hospital.

Other conditions can cause you to test positive for blood ketones. These include:

  • Eating disorders, malnutrition, and other conditions where the body does not take in enough calories
  • Pregnancy. Sometimes pregnant women will develop blood ketones. If high levels are found, it can mean gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that only affects pregnant women.

If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a ketones in blood test?

Some people use at-home kits to test for ketones if they are on a ketogenic or “keto” diet. A keto diet is type of weight-loss plan that causes a healthy person’s body to make ketones. Be sure to talk to your health care provider before going on a keto diet.

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CSF Immunoglobulin G (IgG) Index: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a CSF IgG index?

CSF stands for cerebrospinal fluid. It is a clear, colorless liquid found in your brain and spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord make up your central nervous system. Your central nervous system controls and coordinates everything you do, including muscle movement, organ function, and even complex thinking and planning.

IgG stands for immunoglobulin G, a type of antibody. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to fight viruses, bacteria, and other foreign substances. A CSF IgG index measures the levels of IgG in your cerebrospinal fluid. High levels of IgG can mean you have an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder causes your immune system to attack healthy cells, tissues, and/or organs by mistake. These disorders can cause serious health problems.

Other names: cerebrospinal fluid IgG level, cerebrospinal fluid IgG measurement CSF IgG level, IgG (Immunoglobulin G) spinal fluid, IgG synthesis rate

What is it used for?

A CSF IgG index is used to check for diseases of the central nervous system. It is often used to help diagnose multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system. Many people with MS have disabling symptoms including severe fatigue, weakness, difficulty walking, and vision problems. About 80 percent of MS patients have higher than normal levels of IgG.

Why do I need a CSF IgG index?

You may need a CSF IgG index if you have symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Symptoms of MS include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Tingling in the arms, legs, or face
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weak muscles
  • Dizziness
  • Bladder control problems
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Double vision
  • Changes in behavior
  • Confusion

What happens during a CSF IgG index?

Your cerebrospinal fluid will be collected through a procedure called a spinal tap, also known as a lumbar puncture. A spinal tap is usually done in a hospital. During the procedure:

  • You will lie on your side or sit on an exam table.
  • A health care provider will clean your back and inject an anesthetic into your skin, so you won’t feel pain during the procedure. Your provider may put a numbing cream on your back before this injection.
  • Once the area on your back is completely numb, your provider will insert a thin, hollow needle between two vertebrae in your lower spine. Vertebrae are the small backbones that make up your spine.
  • Your provider will withdraw a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for testing. This will take about five minutes.
  • You’ll need to stay very still while the fluid is being withdrawn.
  • Your provider may ask you to lie on your back for an hour or two after the procedure. This may prevent you from getting a headache afterward.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a CSF IgG index, but you may be asked to empty your bladder and bowels before the test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a spinal tap. You may feel a little pinch or pressure when the needle is inserted. After the test, you may get a headache, called a post-lumbar headache. About one in 10 people will get a post-lumbar headache. This can last for several hours or up to a week or more. If you have a headache that lasts longer than several hours, talk to your health care provider. He or she may be able to provide treatment to relieve the pain.

You may feel some pain or tenderness in your back at the site where the needle was inserted. You may also have some bleeding at the site.

What do the results mean?

If your CSF IgG index shows higher than normal levels, it may indicate:

If your IgG index shows lower than normal levels, it may indicate:

  • A disorder that weakens the immune system. These disorders make it hard to fight infections.

If your IgG index results are not normal, it may not mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Results can vary depending on a variety of factors including your age and overall health, and medicines you are taking. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a CSF IgG index?

The CSF IgG index is often used to help diagnose multiple sclerosis (MS), but it is not specifically an MS test. There is no single test that can tell you whether you have MS. If your health care provider thinks you have MS, you will probably have several other tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis.

While there is no cure for MS, there are many treatments available that can help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

References

  1. Allina Health [Internet]. Minneapolis: Allina Health; c2018. Cerebrospinal fluid IgG measurement, quantitative [updated 2016 Mar 29; cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.allinahealth.org/CCS/doc/Thomson%20Consumer%20Lab%20Database/49/150438.htm
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine; Health Library: Glossary: Allergy and Asthma [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/allergy_and_asthma/glossary__allergy_and_asthma_85,p00018#I
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine; Health Library: Lumbar Puncture (LP) [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/neurological/lumbar_puncture_lp_92,p07666
  4. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.; American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Autoimmune Diseases [updated 2017 Oct 10; cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/conditions/autoimmune-diseases
  5. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.; American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Analysis [updated 2018 Jan 13; cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/cerebrospinal-fluid-csf-analysis
  6. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.; American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Multiple Sclerosis [updated 2017 Oct 10; cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/conditions/multiple-sclerosis
  7. Mayo Clinic: Mayo Medical Laboratories [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1995–2018. Test ID: SFIN: Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) IgG Index [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/8009
  8. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2018. Tests for Brain, Spinal Cord, and Nerve Disorders [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/diagnosis-of-brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/tests-for-brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders
  9. National Cancer Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms: multiple myeloma [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms?cdrid=45793
  10. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Multiple Sclerosis: Hope Through Research [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Multiple-Sclerosis-Hope-Through-Research#3215_4
  11. National Multiple Sclerosis Society [Internet]. National Multiple Sclerosis Society; Diagnosing MS [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/Diagnosing-MS
  12. National Multiple Sclerosis Society [Internet]. National Multiple Sclerosis Society; MS Symptoms [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms
  13. NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine: Genetics Home Reference [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Multiple Sclerosis; 2018 Jan 9 [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/multiple-sclerosis
  14. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2018. Health Encyclopedia: Quantitative Immunoglobulins [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=quantitative_immunoglobulins
  15. UW Health: American Family Children’s Hospital [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Kids Health: Spinal Tap [cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 5 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealthkids.org/kidshealth/en/parents/lumbar-puncture.html/
  16. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Immunoglobulins: Test Overview [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/immunoglobulins/hw41342.html
  17. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Immunoglobulins: Results [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Jan 13]; [about 8 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/immunoglobulins/hw41342.html#hw41354

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Phosphate in Urine: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a phosphate in urine test?

A phosphate in urine test measures the amount of phosphate in your urine. Phosphate is an electrically charged particle that contains the mineral phosphorous. Phosphorous works together with the mineral calcium to build strong bones and teeth. It also plays an essential role in nerve function and how the body uses energy.

Your kidneys control the amount of phosphate in your body. If you have a problem with your kidneys, it can affect your phosphate levels. Phosphate levels that are too low or too high can be a sign of a serious health problem.

Other names: phosphorous test, P, PO4

What is it used for?

A phosphate in urine test may be used to:

  • Help diagnose kidney problems
  • Find the cause of a kidney stone, a small, pebble-like substance that can form in the kidneys
  • Diagnose disorders of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a group of glands that release hormones into your body. Hormones are chemical substances that control many important functions, including growth, sleep, and how your body uses food for energy.

Why do I need a phosphate in urine test?

Most people with high phosphate levels don’t have any symptoms.

You may need a phosphate in urine test if you have symptoms of a low phosphate level. These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pain

You may also need a phosphate in urine test if you’ve had abnormal results on a calcium test. Calcium and phosphate work together, so problems with calcium levels can mean problems with phosphate levels as well. Calcium testing in blood and/or urine is often part of a routine checkup.

What happens during a phosphate in urine test?

You’ll need to collect all your urine during a 24-hour period. This is called a 24-hour urine sample test. Your health care provider or a laboratory professional will give you a container to collect your urine in and instructions on how to collect and store your samples. A 24-hour urine sample test generally includes the following steps:

  • Empty your bladder in the morning and flush that urine down. Do not collect this urine. Record the time.
  • For the next 24 hours, save all your urine in the container provided.
  • Store your urine container in a refrigerator or a cooler with ice.
  • Return the sample container to your health provider’s office or the laboratory as instructed.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a phosphate in urine test. Be sure to carefully follow all the instructions for providing a 24-hour urine sample.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is no known risk to having a phosphate in urine test.

What do the results mean?

The terms phosphate and phosphorous can mean the same thing in test results. So your results may show phosphorous levels rather than phosphate levels.

If your test shows you have high phosphate/phosphorous levels, it may mean you have:

  • Kidney disease
  • Too much vitamin D in your body
  • Hyperparathyroidism, a condition in which your parathyroid gland produces too much parathyroid hormone. The parathyroid gland is a small gland in your neck that helps control the amount of calcium in your blood.

If your test shows you have low phosphate/phosphorous levels, it may mean you have:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Osteomalacia (also known as rickets), a condition that causes bones to become soft and deformed. It’s caused by a vitamin D deficiency.

If your phosphate/phosphorous levels are not normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Other factors, such as your diet, can affect your results. Also, children often have higher phosphate levels because their bones are still growing. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a phosphate in urine test?

Phosphate is sometimes tested in the blood instead of urine.

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BRCA Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a BRCA test?

A BRCA test looks for changes, known as mutations, in genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2. Genes are parts of DNA passed down from your mother and father. They carry information that determine your unique traits, such as height and eye color. Genes are also responsible for certain health conditions. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that protect cells by making proteins that help prevent tumors from forming.

A mutation in a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene can cause cell damage that may lead to cancer. Women with a mutated BRCA gene have a higher risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer. Men with a mutated BRCA gene are at a higher risk for getting breast or prostate cancer. Not everyone who inherits a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will get cancer. Other factors, including your lifestyle and environment, can affect your cancer risk.

If you find out you have a BRCA mutation, you may be able to take steps to protect your health.

Other names: BRCA gene test, BRCA gene 1, BRCA gene 2, breast cancer susceptibility gene1, breast cancer susceptibility gene 2

What is it used for?

This test is used to find out if you have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. A BRCA gene mutation can increase your risk of getting cancer.

Why do I need a BRCA test?

BRCA testing is not recommended for most people. BRCA gene mutations are rare, affecting only about 0.2 percent of the U.S. population. But you may want this test if you think you are at a higher risk of having the mutation. You are more likely to have a BRCA mutation if you:

  • Have or had breast cancer that was diagnosed before age 50
  • Have or had breast cancer in both breasts
  • Have or had both breast and ovarian cancer
  • Have one or more family members with breast cancer
  • Have a male relative with breast cancer
  • Have a relative already diagnosed with a BRCA mutation
  • Are of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry. BRCA mutations are much more common in this group compared to the general population. BRCA mutations are also more common in people from other parts of Europe, including, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark.

What happens during a BRCA test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for BRCA testing. But you may want to meet with a genetic counselor first to see if the test is right for you. Your counselor may talk with you about the risks and benefits of genetic testing and what different results can mean.

You should also think about getting genetic counseling after your test. Your counselor can discuss how your results may impact you and your family, both medically and emotionally.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

Most results are described as negative, uncertain, or positive, and typically mean the following:

  • A negative result means no BRCA gene mutation was found, but it doesn’t mean you won’t ever get cancer.
  • An uncertain result means some kind of BRCA gene mutation was found, but it may or may not be linked with an increased cancer risk. You may need more tests and/or monitoring if your results were uncertain.
  • A positive result means a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 was found. These mutations put you at a higher risk of getting cancer. But not everyone with the mutation gets cancer.

It may take several weeks to get your results. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider and/or your genetic counselor.

Is there anything else I need to know about a BRCA test?

If your results show you have a BRCA gene mutation, you can take steps that may lower your risk of breast cancer. These include:

  • More frequent cancer screening tests, such as mammograms and ultrasounds. Cancer is easier to treat when it’s found in the early stages.
  • Taking birth control pills for a limited time. Taking birth control pills for a maximum of five years has been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in some women with BRCA gene mutations. Taking the pills for more than five years to reduce cancer is not recommended. If you were taking birth control pills before you took the BRCA test, tell your health care provider how old you were when you started taking the pills and for how long. He or she will then recommend whether or not you should continue taking them.
  • Taking cancer-fighting medicines. Certain drugs, such as one called tamoxifen, have been shown to reduce the risk in women with a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Having surgery, known as a preventive mastectomy, to remove healthy breast tissue. Preventive mastectomy has been shown to reduce breast cancer risk by as much as 90 percent in women with a BRCA gene mutation. But this is a major operation, only recommended for women at very high risk for getting cancer.

You should talk with your health care provider to see what steps are best for you.

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CD4 Lymphocyte Count: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a CD4 count?

A CD4 count is a test that measures the number of CD4 cells in your blood. CD4 cells, also known as T cells, are white blood cells that fight infection and play an important role in your immune system. A CD4 count is used to check the health of the immune system in people infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

HIV attacks and destroys CD4 cells. If too many CD4 cells are lost, your immune system will have trouble fighting off infections. A CD4 count can help your health care provider find out if you are at risk for serious complications from HIV. The test can also check to see how well HIV medicines are working.

Other names: CD4 lymphocyte count CD4+ count, T4 count, T-helper cell count, CD4 percent

What is it used for?

A CD4 count may be used to:

  • See how HIV is affecting your immune system. This can help your health care provider find out if you are at higher risk for complications from the disease.
  • Decide whether to start or change your HIV medicine
  • Diagnose AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)
    • The names HIV and AIDS are both used to describe the same disease. But most people with HIV don’t have AIDS. AIDS is diagnosed when your CD4 count is extremely low.
    • AIDS is the most severe form of HIV infection. It badly damages the immune system and can lead to opportunistic infections. These are serious, often life-threatening, conditions that take advantage of very weak immune systems.

You may also need a CD4 count if you’ve had an organ transplant. Organ transplant patients take special medicines to make sure the immune system won’t attack the new organ. For these patients, a low CD4 count is good, and means the medicine is working.

Why do I need a CD4 count?

Your health care provider may order a CD4 count when you are first diagnosed with HIV. You will probably be tested again every few months to see if your counts have changed since your first test. If you are being treated for HIV, your health care provider may order regular CD4 counts to see how well your medicines are working.

Your provider may include other tests with your CD4 count, including:

  • A CD4-CD8 ratio. CD8 cells are another type of white blood cell in the immune system. CD8 cells kill cancer cells and other invaders. This test compares the numbers of the two cells to get a better idea of immune system function.
  • HIV viral load, a test that measures the amount of HIV in your blood.

What happens during a CD4 count?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a CD4 count.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

CD4 results are given as a number of cells per cubic millimeter of blood. Below is a list of typical results. Your results may vary depending on your health and even the lab used for testing. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

  • Normal: 500–1,200 cells per cubic millimeter
  • Abnormal: 250–500 cells per cubic millimeter. It means you have a weakened immune system and may be infected with HIV.
  • Abnormal: 200 or fewer cells per cubic millimeter. It indicates AIDS and a high risk of life-threatening opportunistic infections.

While there is no cure for HIV, there are different medicines you can take to protect your immune system and can prevent you from getting AIDS. Today, people with HIV are living longer, with a better quality of life than ever before. If you are living with HIV, it’s important to see your health care provider regularly.

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Whooping Cough Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a whooping cough test?

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection that causes severe fits of coughing and trouble breathing. People with whooping cough sometimes make a “whooping” sound as they try to take a breath. Whooping cough is very contagious. It is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing.

You can get whooping cough at any age, but it mostly affects children. It’s especially serious, and sometimes deadly, for babies less than a year old. A whooping cough test can help diagnose the disease. If your child gets a whooping cough diagnosis, he or she may be able to get treatment to prevent severe complications.

The best way to protect against whooping cough is with vaccination.

Other names: pertussis test, bordetella pertussis culture, PCR, antibodies (IgA, IgG, IgM)

What is the test used for?

A whooping cough test is used to find out whether you or your child has whooping cough. Getting diagnosed and treated in the early stages of infection may make your symptoms less severe and help prevent the spread of the disease.

Why do I need a whooping cough test?

Your health care provider may order a whooping cough test if you or your child has symptoms of whooping cough. You or your child may also need a test if you’ve been exposed to someone who has whooping cough.

Symptoms of whooping cough usually occur in three stages. In the first stage, symptoms are like those of a common cold and may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild fever
  • Mild cough

It’s better to get tested in the first stage, when the infection is most treatable.

In the second stage, the symptoms are more serious and may include:

  • Severe coughing that’s hard to control
  • Trouble catching your breath when coughing, which may cause a “whooping” sound
  • Coughing so hard it causes vomiting

In the second stage, infants may not cough at all. But they may struggle to breathe or may even stop breathing at times.

In the third stage, you will start to feel better. You may still be coughing, but it will probably be less often and less severe.

What happens during a whooping cough test?

There are different ways to test for whooping cough. Your health care provider may choose one of the following ways to make a whooping cough diagnosis.

  • Nasal aspirate. Your health care provider will inject a saline solution into your nose, then remove the sample with gentle suction.
  • Swab test. Your health care provider will use a special swab to take a sample from your nose or throat.
  • A blood test. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes. Blood tests are used more often in later stages of whooping cough.

In addition, your health care provider may order an x-ray to check for inflammation or fluid in the lungs.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for a whooping cough test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a whooping cough test.

Are there any risks to the tests?

There is very little risk to whooping cough tests.

  • The nasal aspirate may feel uncomfortable. These effects are temporary.
  • For a swab test, you may feel a gagging sensation or even a tickle when your throat or nose is swabbed.
  • For a blood test, you may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

A positive result probably means you or your child has whooping cough. A negative result doesn’t completely rule out whooping cough. If your results are negative, your health care provider will probably order more tests to confirm or rule out a whooping cough diagnosis.

Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics can make your infection less serious if you start treatment before your cough gets really bad. Treatment may also help prevent you from spreading the disease to others.

If you have questions about your test results or treatment, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about whooping cough tests?

The best way to protect against whooping cough is with vaccination. Before whooping cough vaccines became available in the 1940s, thousands of children in the United States died from the disease every year. Today, deaths from whooping cough are rare, but as many as 40,000 Americans get sick with it every year. Most cases of whooping cough affect babies too young to be vaccinated or teens and adults who are not vaccinated or up to date on their vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for all babies and children, teens, pregnant women, and adults who have not been vaccinated or are not up to date on their vaccines. Check with your health care provider to see if you or child needs to be vaccinated.

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Vitamin E (Tocopherol) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a vitamin E (tocopherol) test?

A vitamin E test measures the amount of vitamin E in your blood. Vitamin E (also known as tocopherol or alpha-tocopherol) is a nutrient that is important for many body processes. It helps your nerves and muscles work well, prevents blood clots, and boosts the immune system. Vitamin E is a type of antioxidant, a substance that protects cells from damage.

Most people get the right amount of vitamin E from their diet. Vitamin E is found naturally in many foods, including green, leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. If you have too little or too much vitamin E in your body, it can cause serious health problems.

Other names: tocopherol test, alpha-tocopherol test, vitamin E, serum

What is it used for?

A vitamin E test may be used to:

  • Find out if you are getting enough vitamin E in your diet
  • Find out if you are absorbing enough vitamin E. Certain disorders cause problems with the way the body digests and uses nutrients, such as vitamin E.
  • Check the vitamin E status of premature babies. Premature babies are at a higher risk of vitamin E deficiency, which can cause serious complications.
  • Find out if you are getting too much vitamin E

Why do I need a vitamin E test?

You may need a vitamin E test if you have symptoms of vitamin E deficiency (not getting or absorbing enough vitamin E) or of vitamin E excess (getting too much vitamin E).

Symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency include:

Vitamin E deficiency is very rare in healthy people. Most of the time, vitamin E deficiency is caused by a condition where nutrients are not properly digested or absorbed. These include Crohn’s disease, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, and some rare genetic disorders. Vtamin E deficiency may also be caused by a very low-fat diet.

Symptoms of vitamin E excess include:

Vitamin E excess is also rare. It’s usually caused by taking too many vitamins. If not treated, excess vitamin E can lead to serious health problems, including an increased risk of stroke.

What happens during a vitamin E test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You will probably need to fast (not eat or drink) for 12–14 hours before the test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

A low amount of vitamin E means you are not getting or absorbing enough vitamin E. Your health care provider will probably order more tests to find out the cause. Vitamin E deficiency can be treated with vitamin supplements.

High vitamin E levels means you are getting too much vitamin E. If you are using vitamin E supplements, you will need to stop taking them. Your health care provider may also prescribe other medicines to treat you.

Is there anything else I need to know about a vitamin E test?

Many people believe vitamin E supplements can help prevent certain disorders. But there is no solid evidence that vitamin E has any effect on heart disease, cancer, eye disease, or mental function. To learn more about vitamin supplements or any dietary supplements, talk to your health care provider.

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Lipase Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a lipase test?

Lipase is a type of protein made by your pancreas, an organ located near your stomach. Lipase helps your body digest fats. It’s normal to have a small amount of lipase in your blood. But, a high level of lipase can mean you have pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, or another type of pancreas disease. Blood tests are the most common way of measuring lipase.

Other names: serum lipase, lipase, LPS

What is it used for?

A lipase test may be used to:

  • Diagnose pancreatitis or another disease of the pancreas
  • Find out if there is a blockage in your pancreas
  • Check for chronic diseases that affect the pancreas, including cystic fibrosis

Why do I need a lipase test?

You may need a lipase test if you have symptoms of a pancreas disease. These include:

You may also need a lipase test if you certain risk factors for pancreatitis. These include:

You may also be at a higher risk if you are a smoker or heavy alcohol user.

What happens during a lipase test?

A lipase test is usually in the form of a blood test. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Lipase can also be measured in urine. Usually, a lipase urine test can be taken at any time of day, with no special preparation needed.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for 8–12 hours before a lipase blood test. If your health care provider has ordered a lipase urine test, be sure to ask if you need to follow any special instructions.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

There are no known risks to a urine test.

What do the results mean?

A high level of lipase may indicate:

A low level of lipase may mean there is damage to cells in the pancreas that make lipase. This happens in certain chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

If your lipase levels are not normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Certain medicines, including codeine and birth control pills, can affect your lipase results. If you have questions about your lipase test results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a lipase test?

A lipase test is commonly used to diagnose pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis is a short-term condition that usually goes away after a few days of treatment. Chronic pancreatitis is a long-lasting condition that gets worse over time. But it can be managed with medicine and lifestyle changes, such as quitting drinking. Your health care provider may also recommend surgery to repair the problem in your pancreas.

References

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  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine; Health Library: Chronic Pancreatitis [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/digestive_disorders/chronic_pancreatitis_22,chronicpancreatitis
  3. Junglee D, Penketh A, Katrak A, Hodson ME, Batten JC, Dandona P. Serum pancreatic lipase activity in cystic fibrosis. Br Med J [Internet]. 1983 May 28 [cited 2017 Dec 16]; 286(6379):1693–4. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1548188/pdf/bmjcred00555-0017.pdf
  4. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.; American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Lipase [updated 2018 Jan 15; cited 2018 Feb 20]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/lipase
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  6. Mayo Clinic: Mayo Medical Laboratories [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1995–2017. Test ID: FLIPR: Lipase, Random Urine: Specimen [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Specimen/90347
  7. National Cancer Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms: pancreas [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms?cdrid=46254
  8. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2018 Feb 20]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  9. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Definitions & Facts for Pancreatitis; 2017 Nov [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/pancreatitis/definition-facts
  10. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Treatment for Pancreatitis; 2017 Nov [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/pancreatitis/treatment
  11. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Lipase [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=lipase
  12. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Microscopic Urinalysis [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=urinanalysis_microscopic_exam
  13. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lipase: Test Overview [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lipase/hw7976.html
  14. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lipase: Why It Is Done [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lipase/hw7976.html#hw7984

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