You wake up on the morning of your doctor’s appointment, eager to know your blood sugar level or your body’s cholesterol level.
After you get into your doctor’s office and you see your doctor. But your doctor sends you back home with instructions not to eat or drink anything besides water as from 7-8 pm till the next morning when you will have your blood drawn for the lab. One may wonder why get sent back home and what is this fasting for blood tests?
The next morning those growling sounds can be frustrating, and it is hard to ignore the morning cravings for breakfast and a cup of coffee. However, getting your blood drawn is a quick process, and soon after it is done, you can resume eating and drinking.
In the morning while you are food and drink deprived, go slow; you are simply being instructed to do what is commonly referred to as – Fasting for Blood Tests. It is better to sacrifice eating for a day and get accurate test results. Then just skip the blood test not knowing if you are health or not, and just assume all is well.
This is why it is important to learn a few basics about fasting for blood tests. Stay tuned as we are just getting started.
What is Fasting for Blood Tests?
Let’s begin by understanding what it means by fasting for blood tests. Well, this is a common phrase for glucose/sugar test, but it does apply to other blood tests too.
Fasting for blood tests simply refers to the act of skipping drinks or meals for 8-10 hours or even longer so to enhance accuracy and reliability of blood tests.
You are only allowed to take water which is important in hydrating your blood vessels. This will make it easier to locate your veins and to draw blood.
Why Should You Fast Before Taking Blood Tests?
When we take food or drinks, our bodies absorbs nutrients into the bloodstream.
For example, if you take certain drinks, the level of sugar in your blood will be higher. This means, if by any chance you go for a blood sugar test, the results will not be accurate.
To avoid skewing blood test results, we are required to abstain from taking any meal or drink, apart from water, to enhance the accuracy of blood tests. In a nutshell, fasting enables doctors to establish some baselines and make reliable conclusions.
Does Every Blood Test Require Fasting?
Some tests such as glucose blood do require fasting while others do not. Even though several posts may have contradicting information on this issue, it is best if you reach out to your doctor. Anytime you plan to go for a blood test, consult with your doctor to know whether you should fast or not.
Could My Current Medication Have an Impact on My Blood Test Results?
This is another area that may be controversial. Some medication may have an effect on the accuracy of your blood tests while others may not.
For instance, it is advisable to pause the prescription of certain supplements before taking a blood test. However, the best way to resolve the matter is to talk to your doctor for the best advice.
Blood Tests That Require Fasting
Taking blood tests is imperative in ascertaining the presence or absence of health problems. For some tests, fasting is required to obtain accurate test results.
Below are some of the blood tests that require fasting:
Fasting Blood Glucose Test
Typically, this test measures the amount of glucose/sugar present in your bloodstream. In most cases, it is used to diagnose diabetes. You should avoid taking any meal or drinking anything except water for at least 8-10 hours.
Lipid Profile/Cholesterol Test
This blood test will require you to avoid eating or drinking anything apart from water for at least 9-12 hours. It is a different test that may involve:
- High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol test
- Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol test
- Total Cholesterol test
- Triglycerides test
This is a good test that aims at averting the risks of developing stroke and heart disease. It measures cholesterol levels and other fats in the body.
Basic or Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
This is a more elaborate test that checks the blood sugar level, fluid balance, liver, and kidney function. It has a fasting time of 10-12 hours.
Renal Function Panel
Determines the overall functionality and health of the kidney
Typical fasting time is 8-12 hours.
This test determines whether the level of iron in the bloodstream is too high or too low. Fasting time is 12 hours. Do not take iron pills for 24 hours before going for this test. This may heavily impact the test results.
Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT) Test
This test measures the level of GGT enzyme in your system to diagnose liver disease and bile duct problems. It can also be used to determine whether one has an alcohol abuse problem.
Before taking the test, you will be required to fast for at least 8 hours. Drinking alcohol or smoking should be avoided; otherwise, the results may not be accurate.
Vitamin B12 Test
It measures the amount of Vitamin B12 present in the blood. It is used to diagnose anemia. Some supplements and medication can have an enormous impact on the test results.
Always seek the advice of your doctor before taking this test. It requires you to avoid eating or drinking for 6-8 hours, apart from taking water.