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Blood Test: Fasting Before Blood Test

Blood Test: Fasting Before Blood Test
When we say blood test, it refers to a method wherein a blood sample is collected from an individual's vein for laboratory testing. It is probably one of the most frequently conducted medical tests. The objective of performing a blood test may vary from one person to another. For a healthy and disease free individual, blood test is performed to check the blood type, hemoglobin and other blood components. On the contrary, a patient may require blood testing to determine cholesterol levels, glucose levels or presence of pathogens in the blood sample. This is when fasting before blood test is instructed to get accurate results.

Blood Test and Fasting

There are various types of blood tests, depending upon the approach for which the essaying has been done. For example, biochemical analysis of the blood is done to check the concentration of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, creatine, urea and glucose. The readings of the blood test are then compared with the normal ranges prescribed for proper functioning of the body metabolic processes. In this way, blood test is used to predict the overall health of a person. Know more on blood test results explained.

It is to be borne in mind that not all blood tests call for fasting prior to the procedure. Types of blood test that require fasting are glucose test, cholesterol test (also referred to as lipid profile) and lactose tolerance test. Whatever be the case, many of us have a doubt as to how is blood test, fasting or no food consumption related to each other? And why we need to fast for a specific period before a blood test? In order to get the answers of these queries, we need to understand the food digestion process.

Food after breaking down in simpler forms (glucose) by the digestive tract is released into the bloodstream, which then circulates and helps in providing energy to the body cells. So, the amount of glucose present in the blood sample after having a large meal will be higher than any time of the day. Likewise, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels measured before a meal is lower than the reading taken after a meal. In brief, consuming food before a blood work gives inaccurate results, which are influenced by the food type and amount of serving.

Guidelines for Fasting Before Blood Test

Apart from the doctor's expertise in conducting blood work, the responsibility of a candidate also plays a major role in getting correct blood test results. He/she should strictly follow the fasting guidelines as instructed by the physician or laboratory technician prior to drawing blood for examination. Some useful tips applicable while fasting for a blood test are:
  • Usually, the time period for fasting before blood test falls between 8 - 12 hours. However, the specific fasting duration may differ from one blood test to another.
  • Generally, drinking water during the fasting period is not restricted as it does not affect the blood test results. For some fasting blood tests, the doctor may allow specific drinks, while restricting from other beverages.
  • It is best to stick to the rules of blood test, fasting and other tips, as recommended by the doctor. Any failure to abide the rules should be consulted with the doctor.
  • While speaking about fasting blood glucose test, the candidate should not consume anything for 12 hours before blood test.
  • Blood work for triglyceride level testing may require 12 hours of fasting before the procedure. In some cases, 14 hours fasting is necessary.
  • In order to check cholesterol levels, the doctor may ask you to fast for 6 - 12 hours. Know more on fasting for blood work.
In a nutshell, fasting before blood test is crucial to get accurate results and diagnose the underlying medical problem. If necessary, the doctor may advocate further treatment methods based on the blood test result to improve the health condition of the person.

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