Why do doctors ask to draw your blood?

There are several reasons why your doctor may ask to draw your blood.

Blood draws are performed to check your hematocrit, hemoglobin, or platelet count. If you’re on a specific drug, your doctor may order a blood draw to check levels of the drug in your blood.

Your doctor can also use blood samples to check the effectiveness of your treatment plan.

What are the risks of getting a blood draw?

Getting a blood draw isn’t dangerous. However, a blood draw can increase your risk for infection.

You can help minimize the risk of complications by taking the following steps:

  • Wear a surgical mask and other protective gear.
  • Clean your arm with soap and water before drawing blood, and wash your hands afterward.
  • If you have a latex allergy, you can use an anesthetic cream to numb the area before drawing blood.
  • Ask your doctor if you should be sedated. Your doctor can help you decide if you need to be sedated or put you in a deep sleep.
  • Ask your doctor when you can eat or drink after a blood draw.
  • Take an antihistamine to help you relax.

You should also tell your doctor about any allergies you may have, such as to latex.

If you have anemia, a hematocrit test can determine if your anemia is caused by low iron levels.

What’s the procedure like?

Before your blood draw, you’ll be asked to remove any jewelry, glasses, or other accessories that may get in the way.

You’ll also undress from the waist up, and put on a gown if you’re donating blood.

Once you’re fully undressed, your blood will be drawn from your arm.

Your doctor will take a small sample of your blood. They’ll place a needle on the surface of your arm and draw the blood into a tube.

If you’ve donated blood before, no special preparation is required.

If you’ve never donated blood, you’ll need to get a prescription for a blood test called a CBC. This test measures the following:

  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Hemoglobin
  • Hematocrit

Your doctor will use a special device called a pipette to collect the blood.

The blood will be sent to a lab for testing.

What do the tests show?

In most cases, the tests used to check your hematocrit, hemoglobin, and platelet count will be part of a CBC.

Your doctor will likely order a CBC before and after you receive any kind of blood transfusion.

A CBC can also be used to check your iron and vitamin B-12 levels.

You may also need a blood test called a reticulocyte count to check for anemia. It can help your doctor determine if your anemia is caused by a low number of red blood cells, or if your anemia is caused by other factors, such as a bone marrow disorder.

What do the results mean?

Your doctor will look at the results of your blood tests to determine the cause of your anemia.

The results of your hematocrit, hemoglobin, and platelet count can help your doctor determine the following:

  • Whether you have anemia.
  • Whether your anemia is caused by a blood disorder or a low iron level.
  • Whether it’s a temporary condition or a chronic condition.
  • Whether your anemia is present at a certain age.
  • Whether there are any other conditions present.

What are the possible complications?

If you have anemia, you may not be able to perform some of your everyday activities, such as:

  • Getting up from a sitting or lying position
  • Performing certain physical activities
  • Sitting for extended periods of time
  • Getting dressed or bathing
  • Walking or moving around
  • Standing or walking for long periods of time

You may also have:

  • Discomfort or pain in your arm
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations

If you have other health problems, your anemia could be caused by another condition.

Some health conditions that may cause anemia include:

  • Iron deficiency. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. Iron is a nutrient that helps your body use oxygen. When you don’t get enough iron, it causes your body to use up oxygen instead. Your body uses up oxygen when you breathe.
  • Anemia of chronic disease.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Hemolytic anemia. This is a type of anemia that causes your body to destroy red blood cells.

Other complications of anemia include:

  • Heart disease. Anemia may increase your risk for heart disease, such as heart attack.
  • Stroke. Anemia can increase your risk of stroke.
  • Heart failure.
  • Infections.
  • Pregnancy complications.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Wounds.
  • Depression and anxiety.

What can I do to prevent complications?

If you don’t have other health problems that cause anemia, you can take steps to prevent further complications.

If you don’t have other health problems, you can make lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.

For example, you can:

  • Eat a diet rich in iron-rich foods.
  • Get your iron from foods, not supplements.
  • Eat red meat on a regular basis.
  • Eat a diet rich in vitamin B-12.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Get plenty of exercise.
  • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol use.
  • Get screened for other complications.
  • Consider blood transfusions.

What are the benefits?

Your doctor may recommend that you get screened for anemia if you:

  • Have a family history of anemia.
  • Have a history of bleeding disorders.

What’s the outlook?

Anemia can be treated.

The treatments for anemia depend on your age, health, and other factors.

If you receive treatment, you can:

Your outlook is good. Anemia tends to be a chronic condition. So, if you don’t take steps to prevent complications, you’ll likely have a less-than-ideal outlook.

If your anemia is caused by a low iron level, your outlook is good.

Getting treatment for anemia will help you live a long, happy life.

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