Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test?

A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the level of PSA in your blood. The prostate is a small gland that is part of a man’s reproductive system. It is located below the bladder and makes a fluid that is part of semen. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. Men normally have low PSA levels in their blood. A high PSA level may be a sign of prostate cancer, the most common non-skin cancer affecting American men. But high PSA levels can also mean noncancerous prostate conditions, such as infection or benign prostatic hyperplasia, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate.

Other names: total PSA free PSA

What is it used for?

A PSA test is used to screen for prostate cancer. Screening is a test that looks for a disease, such as cancer, in its early stages, when it’s most treatable. Leading health organizations, such as the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), disagree on recommendations for using the PSA test for cancer screening. Reasons for disagreement include:

  • Most types of prostate cancer grow very slowly. It can take decades before any symptoms show up.
  • Treatment of slow-growing prostate cancer is often unnecessary. Many men with the disease live long, healthy lives without ever knowing they had cancer.
  • Treatment can cause major side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
  • Fast-growing prostate cancer is less common, but more serious and often life-threatening. Age, family history, and other factors can put you at higher risk. But the PSA test alone can’t tell the difference between slow- and fast-growing prostate cancer.

To find out if PSA testing is right for you, talk to your health care provider.

Why do I need a PSA test?

You may get a PSA test if you have certain risk factors for prostate cancer. These include:

  • A father or brother with prostate cancer
  • Being African-American. Prostate cancer is more common in African-American men. The reason for this is unknown.
  • Your age. Prostate cancer is more common in men over the age of 50.

You may also get a PSA test if:

  • You have symptoms such as painful or frequent urination, and pelvic and/or back pain.
  • You’ve already been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The PSA test can help monitor the effects of your treatment.

What happens during a PSA 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 need to avoid having sex or masturbating for 24 hours before your PSA test, as releasing semen can raise your PSA levels.

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?

High PSA levels can mean cancer or a noncancerous condition such as a prostate infection, which can be treated with antibiotics. If your PSA levels are higher than normal, your health care provider will probably order more tests, including:

  • A rectal exam. For this test, your health care provider will insert a gloved finger into your rectum to feel your prostate.
  • A biopsy. This is a minor surgical procedure, where a provider will take a small sample of prostate cells for testing.

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

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

Researchers are looking into ways to improve the PSA test. The goal is to have a test that does a better job of telling the difference between non-serious, slow-growing prostate cancers and cancers that are fast growing and potentially life-threatening.

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Kidney Stone Analysis: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a kidney stone analysis?

Kidney stones are small, pebble-like substances made from chemicals in your urine. They are formed in the kidneys when high levels of certain substances, such as minerals or salts, get into the urine. A kidney stone analysis is a test that figures out what a kidney stone is made of. There are four main types of kidney stones:

  • Calcium, the most common type of kidney stone
  • Uric acid, another common type of kidney stone
  • Struvite, a less common stone that is caused by urinary tract infections
  • Cystine, a rare type of stone that tends to run in families

Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Many stones pass through your body when you urinate. Larger or odd-shaped stones can get stuck inside the urinary tract and may need treatment. While kidney stones rarely cause serious damage, they can be very painful.

If you’ve had a kidney stone in the past, you are likely to get another one. A kidney stone analysis provides information on what a stone is made of. This can help your health care provider develop a treatment plan to reduce your risk of forming more stones.

Other names: urinary stone analysis, renal calculus analysis

What is it used for?

A kidney stone analysis is used to:

  • Figure out the chemical makeup of a kidney stone
  • Help guide a treatment plan to prevent more stones from forming

Why do I need a kidney stone analysis?

You may need a kidney stone analysis if you have symptoms of a kidney stone. These include:

If you’ve already passed a kidney stone and you kept it, your health care provider may ask you to bring it in for testing. He or she will give you instructions on how to clean and package the stone.

What happens during a kidney stone analysis?

You will get a kidney stone strainer from your health care provider or from a drug store. A kidney stone strainer is a device made of fine mesh or gauze. It is used to filter your urine. You will also get or be asked to provide a clean container to hold your stone. To collect your stone for testing, do the following:

  • Filter all your urine through the strainer.
  • After each time you urinate, check the strainer carefully for particles. Remember that a kidney stone can be very small. It may look like a grain of sand or a tiny piece of gravel.
  • If you find a stone, put it in the clean container, and let it dry.
  • DO NOT add any fluid, including urine, to the container.
  • DO NOT add tape or tissue to the stone.
  • Return the container to your health care provider or laboratory as instructed.

If your kidney stone is too large to pass, you may need a minor surgical procedure to remove the stone for testing.

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

You don’t need any special preparations for a kidney stone analysis.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is no known risk to having a kidney stone analysis.

What do the results mean?

Your results will show what your kidney stone is made of. Once your health care provider has these results, he or she can recommend steps and/or medicines that may prevent you from forming more stones. The recommendations will depend on the chemical makeup of your stone.

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

Is there anything else I need to know about a kidney stone analysis?

It’s important to filter all your urine through the kidney stone strainer until you find your kidney stone. The stone may pass at any time, day or night.

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Phosphate in Urine Test: 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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Ketones in Blood Test: 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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Lyme Disease Tests: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What are Lyme disease tests?

Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria carried by ticks. Lyme disease tests look for signs of infection in your blood or cerebrospinal fluid.

You can get Lyme disease if an infected tick bites you. Ticks can bite you anywhere on your body, but they usually bite in hard-to-see parts of your body such as the groin, scalp, and armpits. The ticks that cause Lyme disease are tiny, as small as a speck of dirt. So you may not know you have been bitten.

If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious health problems affecting your joints, heart, and nervous system. But if diagnosed early, most cases of Lyme disease can be cured after a few weeks of treatment with antibiotics.

Other names: Lyme antibodies detection, Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies test, Borrelia DNA Detection, IgM/IgG by Western Blot, Lyme disease test (CSF), Borrelia antibodies, IgM/IgG

What are they used for?

Lyme disease tests are used to find out if you have a Lyme disease infection.

Why do I need a Lyme disease test?

You may need a Lyme disease test if you have symptoms of infection. The first symptoms of Lyme disease usually show up between three and 30 days after the tick bite. They may include:

You may also need a Lyme disease test if you don’t have symptoms, but are at risk for infection. You may be at a higher risk if you:

  • Recently removed a tick from your body
  • Walked in a heavily wooded area, where ticks live, without covering exposed skin or wearing repellent
  • Have done either of the above activities and live in or have recently visited the northeast or midwestern areas of the United States, where most Lyme disease cases occur

Lyme disease is most treatable in its early stages, but you may still benefit from testing later on. Symptoms that may show up weeks or months after the tick bite. They may include:

  • Severe headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Severe joint pain and swelling
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Memory and sleep disorders

What happens during Lyme disease testing?

Lyme disease testing is usually done with your blood or cerebrospinal fluid.

For a Lyme disease 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.

If you have symptoms of Lyme disease affecting your nervous system, such as neck stiffness and numbness in hands or feet, you may need a test of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is a clear liquid found in your brain and spinal cord. During this test, your CSF will be collected through a procedure called a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap. 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 Lyme disease blood test.

For a lumbar puncture, you may be asked to empty your bladder and bowels before the test.

Are there any risks to Lyme disease tests?

There is very little risk to having a blood test or a lumbar puncture. If you had 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. If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.

What do the results mean?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a two-test process of your sample:

  • If your first test result is negative for Lyme disease, you don’t need any more testing.
  • If your first result is positive for Lyme disease, your blood will get a second test.
  • If both results are positive for Lyme disease and you also have symptoms of infection, you probably have Lyme disease.

Positive results don’t always mean a Lyme disease diagnosis. In some cases, you can have a positive result but not have an infection. Positive results may also mean you have an autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

If your lumbar puncture results are positive, it may mean you have Lyme disease, but you might need more tests to confirm a diagnosis.

If your health care provider thinks you have Lyme disease, he or she will prescribe antibiotic treatment. Most people who are treated with antibiotics in the early stage of disease will make a complete recovery.

Is there anything else I need to know about Lyme disease tests?

You can reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease by taking the following steps:

  • Avoid walking in wooded areas with high grass.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Wear long pants and tuck them into your boots or socks.
  • Apply an insect repellent containing DEET to your skin and clothing.

References

  1. ALDF: American Lyme Disease Foundation [Internet]. Lyme (CT): American Lyme Disease Foundation, Inc.; c2015. Lyme Disease [updated 2017 Dec 27; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: http://www.aldf.com/lyme-disease
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease [updated 2017 Nov 16; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 1 screen]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Preventing Tick Bites on People [updated 2017 Apr 17; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/on_people.html
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Signs and Symptoms of Untreated Lyme Disease [updated 2016 Oct 26; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Transmission [updated 2015 Mar 4; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/index.html
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Treatment [updated 2017 Dec 1; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/treatment/index.html
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Two-step Laboratory Testing Process [updated 2015 Mar 26; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/diagnosistesting/labtest/twostep/index.html
  8. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth’s Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Lyme Disease Serology; 369 p.
  9. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Analysis [updated 2017 Dec 28; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/cerebrospinal-fluid-csf-analysis
  10. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Lyme Disease [updated 2017 Dec 3; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/conditions/lyme-disease
  11. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Lyme Disease Tests [updated 2017 Dec 28; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/lyme-disease-tests
  12. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2017. Lyme Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment; 2016 Apr 3 [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 5 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374655
  13. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2017. Lyme Disease [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/bacterial-infections-spirochetes/lyme-disease
  14. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2017. Tests for Brain, Spinal Cord, and Nerve Disorders [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 3 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
  15. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  16. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Borrelia Antibody (Blood) [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=borrelia_antibody_lyme
  17. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Borrelia Antibody (CSF) [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=borrelia_antibody_lyme_csf
  18. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Diagnostic Tests for Neurological Disorders [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=85&contentid=P00811
  19. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lyme Disease Test: Results [updated 2017 Mar 3; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 8 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lyme-disease-test/hw5113.html#hw5149
  20. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lyme Disease Test: Test Overview [updated 2017 Mar 3; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lyme-disease-test/hw5113.html
  21. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lyme Disease Test: Why It’s Done [updated 2017 Mar 3; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lyme-disease-test/hw5113.html#hw5131

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Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test?

A hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test measures the amount of blood sugar (glucose) attached to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. An HbA1c test shows what the average amount of glucose attached to hemoglobin has been over the past three months. It’s a three-month average because that’s typically how long a red blood cell lives.

If your HbA1c levels are high, it may be a sign of diabetes, a chronic condition that can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

Other names: HbA1c, A1c, glycohemoglobin, glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin

What is it used for?

An HbA1c test may be used to check for diabetes or prediabetes in adults. Prediabetes means your blood sugar levels show you are at risk for getting diabetes.

If you already have diabetes, an HbA1c test can help monitor your condition and glucose levels.

Why do I need an HbA1c test?

You may need an HbA1c test if you have symptoms of diabetes. These include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue

Your health care provider may also order an HbA1c test if you are at higher risk for getting diabetes. Risk factors include:

What happens during an HbA1c 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 an HbA1c 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?

HbA1c results are given in percentages. Typical results are below.

  • Normal: HbA1c below 5.7%
  • Prediabetes: HbA1c between 5.7% and 6.4
  • Diabetes: HbA1c of 6.5% or higher

Your results may mean something different. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

If you have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends keeping your HbA1c levels below 7%. Your health care provider may have other recommendations for you, depending on your overall health, age, weight, and other factors.

Is there anything else I need to know about an HbA1c test?

The HbA1c test is not used for gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that only affects pregnant women, or for diagnosing diabetes in children.

Also, if you have anemia or another type of blood disorder, an HbA1c test may be less accurate for diagnosing diabetes. If you have one of these disorders and are at risk for diabetes, your health care provider may recommend different tests.

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Rheumatoid Factor (RF) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a rheumatoid factor (RF) test?

A rheumatoid factor (RF) test measures the amount of rheumatoid factor (RF) in your blood. Rheumatoid factors are proteins produced by the immune system. Normally, the immune system attacks disease-causing substances like viruses and bacteria. Rheumatoid factors attack healthy joints, glands, or other normal cells by mistake.

An RF test is most often used to help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disorder that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. Rheumatoid factors may also be a sign of other autoimmune disorders, such as juvenile arthritis, certain infections, and some types of cancer.

Other names: RF Blood Test

What is it used for?

An RF test is used to help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disorders.

Why do I need an RF test?

You may need an RF test if you have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. These include:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Joint swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade fever

What happens during an RF 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 an RF 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?

If rheumatoid factor is found in your blood, it may indicate:

About 20 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis have little or no rheumatoid factor in their blood. So even if your results were normal, your health care provider may order more tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis.

If your results were not normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Some healthy people have rheumatoid factor in their blood, but it’s not clear why.

Is there anything else I need to know about an RF test?

An RF test is not used to diagnose osteoarthritis. Although rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis both affect the joints, they are very different diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects people at any age, but usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. It affects more women than men. Symptoms may come and go and vary in severity. Osteoarthritis is not an autoimmune disease. It is caused by the wear and tear of joints over time and usually affects adults over the age of 65.

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CSF 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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Microalbumin Creatinine Ratio: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a microalbumin creatinine ratio?

Microalbumin is a small amount of a protein called albumin. It is normally found in the blood. Creatinine is a normal waste product found in urine. A microalbumin creatinine ratio compares the amount of albumin to the amount of creatinine in your urine.

If there is any albumin in your urine, the amount can vary greatly throughout the day. But creatinine is released as a steady rate. Because of this, your health care provider can more accurately measure the amount of albumin by comparing it to the amount of creatinine in your urine. If albumin is found in your urine, it may mean you have a problem with your kidneys.

Other names: albumin-creatinine ratio; urine albumin; microalbumin, urine; ACR; UACR

What is it used for?

A microalbumin creatinine ratio is most often used to screen people who are at higher risk for kidney disease. These include people with diabetes or high blood pressure. Identifying kidney disease at an early stage can help prevent serious complications.

Why do I need a microalbumin creatinine ratio?

You may need this test if you have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends:

If you have high blood pressure, you may get a microalbumin creatinine ratio at regular intervals, as recommended by your health care provider.

What happens during a microalbumin creatinine ratio?

For a microalbumin creatinine ratio you will be asked to provide either a 24-hour urine sample or a random urine sample.

For a 24-hour urine sample, you will need to collect all urine passed in a 24-hour period. Your health care provider or a laboratory professional will give you a container to collect your urine and instructions on how to collect and store your samples. A 24-hour urine sample test usually 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 passed in the container provided.
  • Store your urine container in the refrigerator or a cooler with ice.
  • Return the sample container to your health provider’s office or the laboratory as instructed.

For a random urine sample, you will receive a container in which to collect the urine and special instructions to ensure the sample is sterile. These instructions are often referred to as the “clean catch method.” The clean catch method includes the following steps:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Clean your genital area with a cleansing pad. Men should wipe the tip of their penis. Women should open their labia and clean from front to back.
  • Start to urinate into the toilet.
  • Move the collection container under your urine stream.
  • Collect at least an ounce or two of urine into the container, which should have markings to indicate the amount.
  • Finish urinating into the toilet.
  • Return the sample container as instructed by your health care provider.

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

You don’t need any special preparations for a microalbumin creatinine ratio.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is no known risk to a 24-hour urine sample or a random urine sample.

What do the results mean?

If your microalbumin creatinine ratio shows albumin in your urine, you may get tested again to confirm the results. If your results continue to show albumin in urine, it may mean you have early-stage kidney disease. If your test results show high levels of albumin, it may mean you have kidney failure. If you are diagnosed with kidney disease, your health care provider will take steps to treat the disease and/or prevent further complications.

If small amounts of albumin are found in your urine, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have kidney disease. Urinary tract infections and other factors can cause albumin to show up in urine. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a microalbumin creatinine ratio?

Be sure not to confuse “prealbumin” with albumin. Although they sound similar, prealbumin is a different type of protein. A prealbumin test is used to diagnose different conditions than a microalbumin creatinine ratio.

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Porphyrin Test: 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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