Archives February 2023

Pregnancy (PDT, PT)

A pregnancy test can tell whether you’re pregnant or not by detection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in urine or blood.

High levels of hCG are a sign of pregnancy. hCG increases quickly in the first ten weeks after a fertilized egg attaches to the inside wall of the uterus.

Urine tests for pregnancy are most accurate when you do the test a week or two after you’ve missed your menstrual period. If you take a urine test too close to the time you got pregnant, the test could say that you are not pregnant even when you really are. That’s because your body may not yet have made enough hCG to show up on the test.

You can have an hCG urine test at your health care provider’s office or you can do the test yourself with an at-home test kit. These tests are basically the same, so many people use a home pregnancy test before calling their provider. If you follow the instructions carefully, home pregnancy tests are about 97-99% accurate. They can give you the results in minutes.

Blood tests for pregnancy can be done at your provider’s office or a lab. These tests can find very small amounts of hCG, so they can accurately show whether you’re pregnant before you’ve missed your period. But hCG blood tests aren’t commonly used to check for pregnancy.

That’s because urine tests are less expensive, very accurate, and provide quicker results than blood tests. hCG blood test results may take hours to more than a day.

Other names: human chorionic gonadotropin test, HCG test, qualitative hCG blood test, quantitative hCG blood test, Beta-hCG urine test, total chorionic gonadotropin, hCG total OB

What is it used for?

A pregnancy test is used to find out whether you’re pregnant.

Why do I need a pregnancy test?

You may need this test if you think you’re pregnant. Symptoms of pregnancy vary from person to person. The most common sign of early pregnancy is a missed period. Other common signs of early pregnancy may include:
Swollen, tender breasts
Fatigue
Frequent need to urinate (pee)
Nausea and vomiting (also called morning sickness)
Feeling bloated or swollen in your abdomen (belly) or body

If you need to have medical treatment that could harm an unborn baby, you may also need a pregnancy test to make sure that you aren’t pregnant.

What happens during a pregnancy test?

Home pregnancy tests are quick and easy to use. You can buy a home pregnancy test kit without a prescription. The kits include test sticks or strips that react to hCG in your urine. The steps for doing a test depend on the brand, so it’s very important to follow the instructions that come with your test.

For most test kits, you’ll either:
Hold the test stick or strip in your urine stream
Collect your urine in a cup and dip the test stick or strip into the cup
After waiting a certain number of minutes, you’ll check your results on the test stick or strip.

The instructions will tell you what to look for. In general, to get the most accurate results with any home pregnancy test, you’ll need to:
Check the expiration date before you use the test.

Test your first morning urine. Morning urine usually has more hCG than urine later in the day.
Use a timer. If you guess the timing, your results may not be accurate.

Blood tests are done at your provider’s office or a lab. A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This process usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

If you’re doing a urine test, don’t drink large amounts of fluid before collecting your sample. That could dilute the hCG in your urine, and it may not show up on the test.

Otherwise, you don’t need any special preparations for a pregnancy test that uses urine or blood.

What do the results means?

Your results will show whether you’re pregnant.

A negative result means hCG wasn’t found in your sample, so you may not be pregnant. But a negative result doesn’t always mean you’re not pregnant. If you did a home urine test too soon, your body may not have made enough hCG to show up the test.
hCG levels increase every day during early pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to repeat the test again in a week.

If you get negative (not pregnant) results on two home tests, but you still think you’re pregnant, call your provider. If you get a negative result on a test that your provider does, ask your provider if you need another test.

A positive result means that hCG was found in your sample. That usually means that you’re pregnant. It’s important to see your provider as soon as possible to make sure you get the right care.

If you did a home test, your provider may do another test to confirm your pregnancy.
If you’re taking medicine to help you get pregnant (fertility drugs), your test results may show that you’re pregnant when you’re not. Your provider can check to see whether you’re really pregnant.

Is there anything else I need to know about a pregnancy test?

Most pregnancy tests simply measure whether or not you have hCG in your sample. But certain pregnancy tests also measure how much hCG you have. These tests are called quantitative hCG tests, and they’re usually done on blood samples.

The amount of hCG in your body can give your provider important information about your pregnancy and the health of your unborn baby.

Quantitative hCG tests are sometimes used to help:
Find out the age of the fetus if you’re very early in your pregnancy
Monitor your pregnancy if you have a high risk of miscarriage

Check for certain problems, such as:
Ectopic pregnancy, which is a fertilized egg that tries to grow outside of the uterus. The egg cannot grow into a baby when it’s in the wrong place. It must be removed to avoid damage to your organs. This can be a medical emergency.

Molar pregnancy (hydatidiform mole), which is an abnormal growth of tissue in the uterus. It’s caused by a fertilized egg with such severe genetic problems that it cannot become a baby. The growth can turn into cancer and must be removed.

Problems in the unborn baby, including Down syndrome, other chromosome problems, and certain birth defects (hCG testing is usually part of a group of prenatal screening tests called a “triple” or “quadruple” screen test.)

Your provider may also order a quantitative hCG blood test to help diagnose or monitor health conditions that aren’t related to pregnancy. These include ovarian and testicular cancer along with other conditions that can increase hCG levels.

Malaria Parasite Test

Malaria is a serious disease caused by a plasmodium parasite spread by infected female anopheles mosquito. These parasites including falciparum, ovale, malariae, vivax cause malaria which is passed to humans through the bite of infected mosquitos. At first, malaria symptoms may be similar to those of the flu.

Later on, malaria can lead to life-threatening complications.
Malaria is not contagious like a cold or flu, but it can be spread from person to person by mosquitos. If a mosquito bites an infected person, it will spread the parasite to anyone it bites afterward. If you are bitten by an infected mosquito, the parasites will travel into your bloodstream.

The parasites will multiply inside your red blood cells and cause illness. Malaria tests look for signs of a malaria infection in the blood.
Malaria is common in tropical and subtropical areas.

Every year, millions of people are infected with malaria, and hundreds of thousands of people die from the disease. Most people who die from malaria are young children in Africa. While malaria is found in more than 87 countries, most infections and deaths happen in Africa. Malaria is rare in the United States. But U.S. citizens who travel to Africa and other tropical countries are at risk for getting infected.

Other names: malaria blood smear, malaria rapid diagnostic test, malaria by PCR

Significance of the Malaria Parasite test.

Malaria tests are used to diagnose malaria. If malaria is diagnosed and treated early, it can usually be cured. Left untreated, malaria can lead to life-threatening complications, including kidney failure, liver failure, and internal bleeding.

Why do I need a malaria test?

You may need this test if you live or have recently traveled to an area where malaria is common and you have symptoms of malaria. Most people will have symptoms within 14 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

But symptoms can show up as soon as seven days afterward or can take as long as a year to appear. In the early stages of infection, malaria symptoms are similar to the flu, and may include:
Fever
Chills
Fatigue
Headache
Body aches
Nausea and vomiting

In the later stages of infection, symptoms are more serious and may include:
High fever
Shivering and chills
Convulsions
Bloody stools
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Seizures
Mental confusion

What happens during Malaria test?

Your health care provider will probably ask about your symptoms and for details on your recent travels. If an infection is suspected, your blood will be tested to check for signs of a malaria infection.

During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Your blood sample may be tested in one or both of the following ways.

Blood smear test.

In a blood smear, a drop of blood is put on a specially treated slide. A laboratory professional will examine the slide under a microscope and look for parasites.

Rapid diagnostic test.

This test looks for proteins known as antigens, which are released by malaria parasites. It can provide faster results than a blood smear, but a blood smear is usually needed to confirm a diagnosis.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t any special preparations for a malaria test. However dont take any anti malaria drugs prior to the test.

What do the results of Malaria Test mean?

If your results were negative, but you still have malaria symptoms, you may need retesting. The number of malaria parasites can vary at times. So your provider may order blood smears every 12-24 hours over a period of two to three days. It’s important to find out whether you have malaria so you can get treated quickly.

If your results were positive, your health care provider will prescribe medicine to treat the disease. The type of medicine will depend on your age, how serious your malaria symptoms are, and whether you are pregnant. When treated early, most cases of malaria can be cured.

Is there anything else I need to know about malaria tests?

If you will be traveling to an area where malaria is common, talk to your health care provider before you go. He or she may prescribe a medicine that can help prevent malaria.

There are also steps you can take to prevent mosquito bites. This may reduce your risk of getting malaria and other infections transmitted by mosquitos.

To prevent bites, you should:
Apply an insect repellent containing DEET on your skin and clothing.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Use screens on windows and doors.
Sleep under a mosquito net.

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate

ESR is a blood test that that can show if you have inflammation in your body by measuring rate of red blood cells sedimentation.

Inflammation is your immune system’s response to injury, infection, and many types of conditions, including immune system disorders, certain cancers, and blood disorders.

Erythrocytes are red blood cells. To do an ESR test, a sample of your blood is sent to a lab. A health care professional places the sample in a tall, thin test tube – Westerngren and wintobe tubes- and measures how quickly the red blood cells settle or sink to the bottom of the tube.

Normally, red blood cells sink slowly. But inflammation makes red blood cells stick together in clumps. These clumps of cells are heavier than single cells, so they sink faster.

If an ESR test shows that your red blood cells sink faster than normal, it may mean you have a medical condition causing inflammation. The speed of your test result is a sign of how much inflammation you have.

Faster ESR rates mean higher levels of inflammation. But an ESR test alone cannot diagnose what condition is causing the inflammation.

Other names: ESR, SED rate sedimentation rate; Westergren sedimentation rate

What is it used for?

An ESR test can be used with other tests to help diagnose conditions that cause inflammation. It can also be used to help monitor these conditions. Many types of conditions cause inflammation, including arthritis, vasculitis, infection, and inflammatory bowel disease. An ESR may also be used to monitor an existing condition.

Why do I need an ESR?

Your health care provider may order an ESR if you have symptoms of a condition that causes inflammation. Your symptoms will depend on the condition you may have, but they may include:
Headaches
Unexplained fever
Weight loss
Joint stiffness
Neck or shoulder pain
Loss of appetite
Anemia

What happens during an ESR?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial.

You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having an ESR. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

Your provider will use the results of your ESR test along with your medical history, symptoms, and other test results to make a diagnosis. An ESR test alone cannot diagnose conditions that cause inflammation.

A HIGH ESR test result may be from a condition that causes inflammation, such as:
Arteritis
Arthritis
Systemic vasculitis
Polymyalgia rheumatica
Inflammatory bowel disease
Kidney disease
Infection
Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases
Heart disease
Certain cancers

A LOW ESR test result means your red blood cells sank more slowly than normal. This may be caused by conditions such as:
A blood disorder, such as:
Polycythemia
Sickle cell disease (SCD)
Leukocytosis, a very high white blood cell count (WBC)
Heart failure
Certain kidney and liver problems

If your ESR results are not normal, it doesn’t always mean you have a medical condition that needs treatment.

Pregnancy, a menstrual cycle, aging, obesity, drinking alcohol regularly, and exercise can affect ESR results.

Certain medicines and supplements may also affect your results, so be sure to tell your provider about any medicines or supplements you are taking.

Is there anything else I need to know about an ESR?

Because an ESR can’t diagnose a specific disease, your provider may order other tests at the same time. Also, it’s possible to have a condition that causes inflammation and still have a normal ESR result.

C-reactive protein (CRP) test is commonly done with an ESR to provide more information.

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