What if My Lab Results Aren’t Normal?

Feb 20, 2023
What if My Lab Results Aren’t Normal?
You don’t think twice about lab results that come back normal. But what happens when your lab results are abnormal? First, don’t panic. Second, find out what your results might mean and what to do next here.

Laboratory testing is a routine part of healthcare. Doctors rely on screenings, diagnostic tests, and more to assess your health — and most of the time, you get your results and move on with your life.

But what happens when your lab results aren’t normal? While abnormal lab results can be nerve-wracking, it’s important not to panic. Lab results can be affected by many factors and not all abnormal results indicate a serious problem.

At Path MD Labs in Los Angeles, California, our team is here to help you figure out the next steps. We specialize in advanced lab testing, and in this blog, we’re taking a closer look at what happens if your lab results aren't normal and what to do next.

Understanding your abnormal lab results

First and foremost, lab results are just one piece of information that your doctor uses to make a diagnosis or treatment plan. Your doctor doesn’t just look at your lab results. They consider many factors, including your medical history, symptoms, and overall health, when interpreting your lab results and reaching a diagnosis.

Finding out your results weren’t normal can be scary, but it's important to resist the urge to jump to conclusions. Try to avoid turning to the internet or other people who aren’t qualified to interpret your results. Instead, trust that your doctor will help you understand what it means for your health.

Remember that not all abnormal lab results indicate a serious problem. Some lab results may be considered "borderline" or "abnormal" but not necessarily indicative of a disease or condition. In these cases, your doctor may recommend monitoring the results over time to see if they change.

In other cases, treatment may be as simple as lifestyle changes. For example, if your cholesterol levels are elevated, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise to bring them back to normal levels. It’s also possible that an abnormal result is due due to a temporary condition that will resolve on its own.

Repeating your lab test

If your lab results aren't normal, your doctor will likely want to repeat the test to confirm the results. A lot of different factors can influence your lab results, like medication you’re taking, the time of day you got the test, and even the lab technician who performed the test. Repeating the test helps your doctor determine if the abnormal result is a true indication of a problem or if it was an error.

If the abnormal result is confirmed, your doctor starts working to determine the cause of the issue. You might need additional tests or a physical examination. Depending on the test and the result, your doctor may also refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. For example, if your blood sugar levels are high, your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist for further evaluation and management.

Developing a treatment plan

Once your doctor pinpoints the cause of your abnormal lab result, they work with you to develop a treatment plan. Treatment varies widely depending on the type of condition you have, but it may involve medication, lifestyle changes, or surgery.

It's important to follow your doctor's treatment plan and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure that your condition is properly managed. The good news is that proactive care is very effective in managing or curing many common health conditions, from high blood pressure to diabetes.

We know it can be concerning to receive abnormal lab results, but you don’t need to panic. Lab results are just one piece of the picture, and additional testing is often the key to understanding your health and starting treatment.