Patients are often overwhelmed navigating the complex world of medical lab tests. When a patient comes in, suffering from a ‘bouquet’ of symptoms, each specialist orders a bunch of tests, yet after spending a ton of money and time, the patient often goes home undiagnosed and frustrated.
I often tell my clients that diagnosing diseases, especially complex ones like those related to autoimmune conditions, hormonal disbalance and gut issues, requires a holistic approach, where interlinkages between different systems are also taken into account. Specialists usually end up looking at a narrow set of test results that are directly linked to their field of specialization and as a result, they might miss important signals coming from other parts of the body.
Why is relying on a small number of tests a bad idea?
Let me explain.
A few tests can make it seem like everything is functioning “normally” and you don’t have a problem. Actually, a lot of confused patients come to me with a bunch of symptoms, saying that according to the test results, they should be healthy. However, it is clear that their symptoms are telling a different story. A few lab results can be very misleading for two reasons:
- What appears to be a “normal” range in a lab test according to the protocol, might not be normal for all, so establishing YOUR norm should be a priority and
- Seemingly normal results might still be linked to problems in other parts of the system. This is especially true for more complex diseases, which have a wide range of symptoms that are coming from many parts of the body. You might miss something in one set of tests, but discover something in another.
I believe that with a holistic approach that takes into account a wide range of lab results, as well as individual characteristics like a patient’s lifestyle, genetic, dietary and environmental factors, we can get a much better picture of what processes are truly taking place in your body.
Remember that testing not only screens for various conditions and evaluates overall health, but it also allows for accurate tracking of progress throughout the treatment.
To get a good idea of your overall health, these are the general lab tests I recommend:
- Inflammation assessment – inflammation contributes to a number of conditions, like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease to name a few. When unattended, chronic inflammation can damage various organs and lead to serious medical conditions. To test for inflammation, we use inflammation assessment, which is based on the blood work that is drawn and sent to a lab for analysis. We analyze a range of indicators to detect the signs of inflammation.
- Autoimmune screening – Autoimmune Screening panel is an economical and efficient way to assess possible tissue damage to multiple organs of the body. There are over 220 known autoimmune diseases, with the occurrence of many of these on the rise. It assesses a wide range of antigens and evaluates the level of predictive antibodies, some of which can appear up to ten years before the clinical onset of disease. Predictive antibodies allow for the identification of markers and possible precursors of autoimmune diseases
- Food allergy and sensitivity testing – food allergies and sensitivities have been linked to various skin, digestive and respiratory conditions, mood and attention disorders and fatigue and pain. We use immunoglobulin E (IgE) tests to measure the blood level of IgE, which reacts to allergens, bacteria and viruses. IgG, IgM and IgA testing can provide insights into food sensitivities – which are a delayed reaction. With food allergy and/or sensitivity blood testing we are able to uncover the causes of food related problems in your body and help you change your diet in a way that benefits your health. Remember what Hippocrates preached – ‘Let Food be Thy Medicine and Medicine be Thy Food’.
6. Comprehensive Stool analysis – gastrointestinal (GI) disbalance is possibly one of the main drivers of diseases like IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, maldigestion, chronic dysbiosis, etc. In fact, over 80% of the immune system is linked to the gut which connects digestive health to virtually every chronic disease. Thus, digestive stool analysis is a valuable tool for assessing overall health of the GI tract, and ultimately your overall health.
Comprehensive stool analysis looks at digestion/absorption markers, gut microbiota and inflammatory and metabolic markers which give an overall picture of your gut health. This is a good place to start researching your gut health.
- SIBO testing – Another useful test for gut health is SIBO testing. SIBO often leads to other medical conditions like a wide array of digestive health issues, anemia, malabsorption, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.
It is usually accompanied by a host of uncomfortable symptoms which can be reduced through proper diagnosing and treatment. SIBO testing is done through a simple breath test kit and is highly effective in detecting gut-related abnormalities.
Some other lab tests that could be very insightful include amino acid analysis, essential fatty acid testing, Lyme disease testing, Mold Testing, Heavy Metal etc. If you have medical coverage, please check with your insurance provider as testing is often covered under your extended medical plan.
Our clinic offers a wide variety of testing to help diagnose the root cause of your health related issues. This list includes all of the tests available at our clinic.
Please do not hesitate to contact our staff if you have any questions pertaining to our Functional Medicine Tests & Diagnostics