Answers: "I Don't Understand My Lab Test Results"
For people with hepatitis C, it is normal to have lots of lab tests and blood work. Your doctor may order lab tests to check if treatment is working, monitor your liver function, or just get a better picture of your overall health. But what do these results mean?
To better answer this question, we asked our HepatitisC.net advocates, "What advice would you give someone who says, 'I don’t understand my lab test results'?" Here is what they shared:
"Test results can be confusing, but ask your doctor or their nurse to explain what tests you have had, what they are for, and what your results mean for your condition. You may also ask what tests will need to be repeated and how often they need to be done."
Do you know the state of your liver health?
"They can be difficult to understand. If you get tested, you will have a medical professional assigned to you, and you should request a meeting with them to explain the results. I did not understand mine until I had a meeting with my doctor who brought it all down to Earth."
"I don’t blame you! There is a reason the doctors have to go to school to tell us this information. However, there are multiple resources online that can help you understand the tests that are used, how to interpret your results, and what the results mean in the context of your health. For example, the Mayo Clinic website page on liver tests is written in plain-language format. You can find this page here."
"Everyone has a different way of viewing lab results. Some people want to know exactly what their levels mean. Lab work is important, especially if your doctor has asked you to make dietary or lifestyle changes in order to manage your healthcare. First, ask your healthcare provider what areas they are concerned about. Then find a website with a good reputation and hepatitis C information. Read online and ask questions in a discussion or online forum. Getting trustworthy information about lab results can help you stay healthier."
"Lab results are so confusing. I set up a consult with my doctor's nurse to sit with me and explain while I took notes on what I was reading. I had her explain the meaning of each, and it became much easier for me after that point. Since many doctors are so busy these days, I requested to meet with the nurse. That way, I got in right away and my questions got answered."
"Without a doubt, your doctor who you are seeing for hepatitis C is the best resource for your questions regarding your lab test results. Searching the internet to get information about your lab test results is highly discouraged because you never know for sure if you are getting accurate, up-to-date information from a reliable source. Also, 1 person’s numbers may be good for them but not good for you or vice versa – each person has their own individual health variables and you may be comparing apples to oranges!"
"Hep C lab tests can be quite confusing to interpret at the beginning – even some medical professionals have difficulties interpreting them! However, once you sit down and attempt to understand what the tests mean, you will see that it can be learned. I recommend that everyone understand their lab results – knowledge is power! If you want a starting point, our community has published numerous articles surrounding this topic, such as this one."
"The best person to ask to explain your lab test results would be your doctor or his/her physician assistant. You may also look at our article."