Young, troubled woman using laptop at home while reading blood test results.

How to Read Blood Test Results

Young, troubled woman using laptop at home while reading blood test results.

When it comes to your health and wellness, there are a variety of tests that doctors perform to determine your health status. A blood test also referred to as a blood panel or a complete blood count (CBC) test, is valuable for checking many things. This includes the health of your vital organs, such as the heart, and the presence of dangerous genetic conditions. 

Additionally, a CBC test is one of the best ways to determine your overall health and wellness. A good result on your blood test means that you’re in good physical condition, but anomalies could indicate problems. However, CBC tests are fairly complicated to understand, and a misinterpretation could be just as dangerous as a bad result on the blood test. 

Therefore, if you’re considering taking a blood test and want to know how to interpret the results, you’ve come to the right place. While your doctor will most likely explain the results, it’s good to have a basic understanding of blood tests going into your examination. This article will also discuss preparing for your blood test so you don’t receive inconclusive results.

Understanding Blood Test Results

Complete blood count tests, the most common type of blood test, are confusing and tricky. They measure many different aspects of your blood, including your white blood cell count, red blood cell count, platelets, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and more. Even though you’ll get a full explanation from the doctor that administers the test, having a previous understanding of blood tests will help you fully understand the results.

Reference Ranges

The first thing you need to understand about blood tests is that they’re based on reference ranges. Reference ranges refer to the normal range for most people who get tested. For instance, if the reference range for a specific section of the test is 70 – 90, your result should fall within that range.

However, it’s important to understand that everyone’s bodies are different, and just because you didn’t score within the “normal range” doesn’t mean you have a problem. Therefore, reference ranges are typically used as a rough guide rather than the rule of law when determining your health status.

Abnormal Results

Young black female doctor presenting results of blood test results. The second thing you need to understand about blood tests is what it means when you receive abnormal results. An abnormal result simply means that your test results were slightly higher or lower than the “normal” reference range.

While this may seem concerning, it isn’t always something to worry about. As with blood pressure and heart rate, everyone’s body is different, which means that a perfectly healthy person can test outside of the normal reference range. It’s also possible for someone who’s unhealthy to test within the normal reference range. These types of tests are known as false positives or false negatives.

  • False positives 

A false positive means that your blood test reveals a disease or condition you don’t have.

  • False negatives 

A false negative means that your blood test reveals you don’t have any diseases or conditions when you do.

Because of the dangers of false positives and negatives, you should have your test interpreted by a medical professional. They will know whether or not you need additional tests.

Reasons for Abnormal Results

While an abnormal result on your blood test may be indeed caused for concern, there are other possible reasons for an abnormal result, including the following.

  • There’s inflammation inside your body that’s causing the abnormal result.
  • You ate or drank something that altered the result.
  • You’re stressed out
  • You’re currently sick or ill
  • Drugs, medicine, or alcohol has altered the blood test result

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Tips for Preparing for a Blood Test

A nurse performing a blood draw on a patient.If you want to prevent an inconclusive reading or abnormal result on your blood test, here are a few tips to follow.

Fasting Requirements

One of the most common reasons for abnormal or inconclusive results on blood tests is that people didn’t follow the fasting requirements. It’s important to fast for a minimum of 8 to 12 hours before your blood test; some doctors will recommend up to 24 hours. You should also avoid drinking anything besides water while you’re fasting.

Medications and Supplements

In the same way that food and drink can result in abnormal or inconclusive results on your blood test, so can medications and supplements. However, this isn’t always the case, and you should check with the doctor providing the test to find out if any supplements or medications you’re taking could impede the results.


Receiving an abnormal result on your blood work can be concerning and inconvenient. Either something is potentially wrong with you, or your blood test got messed up, and you’ll need to take a second one. Therefore, following the tips and tricks above in the days leading up to your blood test is important.

Having your blood test administered, interpreted, and explained by a medical professional is also important. A professional can determine if abnormal results are cause for concern and if further testing is necessary. They will also ensure that the test is administered properly and that you know exactly what they mean.

Schedule your at Home Lab Test with Drip Hydration

An in-home lab test is a simple, convenient way to get the answers you need. Samples are collected by one of our medical professionals. We will help you understand your results and recommend the next steps to help you feel your best.

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Lab Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to do lab tests occasionally?

It is important to do lab tests occasionally because they can provide valuable information about an individual's health and help to identify potential health issues early on. Lab tests can measure a wide range of factors, including blood count, cholesterol levels, liver and kidney function, and hormone levels, and can provide insight into an individual's overall health and wellness. Additionally, lab tests can help to diagnose and monitor the progression of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can help to identify any potential health risks or concerns. By doing lab tests occasionally, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of potential health problems in the future.

What does a routine blood test cover?

A routine blood test is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. Blood tests can also be used to check how well certain organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are functioning.

How is a blood sample collected for lab testing?

A blood sample for lab testing is typically collected through a process called venipuncture, which involves inserting a small needle into a vein to draw blood. This is usually done on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

What is the cost of a lab test?

In general, the cost of a lab test can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It is always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to get an accurate estimate of the cost of a lab test.

Read More: Lab Testing FAQ