Formal Name: Thrombin Time

What is Bleeding Time?

Bleeding Time test is to determine how fast your blood clots to stop bleeding. For performing this test, the technician will only make a small puncture on the skin. This test is a basic assessment how well the blood platelets work. The blood platelets are tiny fragments that circulate with the blood flow in our whole body. If there’s any puncture in any place, the platelets work quickly to clot the place and thus, save additional blood from escaping the blood vessels.

When to get tested?

Most of the time, patients don’t need to take the test. The doctor may suggest taking the test if you’ve experienced bleeding that doesn’t stop, especially from punctures, cuts or small incisions. Your doctor can choose a number of tests for evaluating your platelet function. This bleeding time test is really common for screening patients with the prolonged bleeding times.

The test procedure

There is no prior preparation necessary for the test. Around the upper arm, a blood pressure cuff will be inflated. While the cuff is on, the healthcare provider will make 2 small cuts on the lower arm. These cuts are just deep enough to cause a tiny amount of bleeding. Then, the technician will remove the blood pressure cuff. Bloating paper will be touched to the cuts every 30 seconds until the bleeding stops. The healthcare provider will note the time required for clotting the blood.

Why are Bleeding Time test done?

bleedingThis test is useful in diagnosing patients with bleeding problems.

What the test result means

Generally, the time required for bleeding to stop is 1-9 minutes. If there are any abnormalities found in the test, it means you need to be diagnosed with in-depth testing for finding out the cause of your prolonged bleeding. You may have acquired platelet function defect, a condition that develops after birth and impacts the working nature of platelets. Your body may also produce too much or fewer platelets than required, thus causing the abnormal functionality.

Abnormal results could also indicate the following conditions:

  • A blood vessel defect which is impacting how well your blood vessels transport blood throughout your entire body.
  • A genetic platelet function defect. This issue is present at birth and affects how the platelet functions. For example, hemophilia is such type of issue.
  • Primary thrombocythemia is a condition when the bone marrow generates too many platelets than needed.
  • Thrombocytopenia is a condition when your body produces too few platelets than needed.
  • Von Willebrand’s disease. It’s a hereditary condition and affects the clotting system of the blood.

Anything else I should know?

This test is a part of a series of tests to identify and evaluate a bleeding or thrombotic disorder. In most scenario, people with decreased/dysfunctional fibrinogen will show mild or no symptoms. The only way to discover the abnormality is while performing other tests or another reason.

Those having a genetic disorder often has to go through genetic molecular testing. This helps diagnosing inherited dysfibrinogenemia, afibrinogenemia or hypofibrinogenemia and identify the mutated gene(s).

Always perform this test at a laboratory instead of at the doctor’s office. Bleeding disorder tests require specialized equipment and reagents. So, the nearest laboratory is the best place to perform this test.

 


Ferritin

Formal Name: Ferritin (serum)

What is Ferritin test?

Ferritin test is the test that determines the ferritin level in the blood. Ferritin is an iron-containing protein present in the blood. The test helps the doctor diagnose and understand the level of iron storage in the body of a person.

When to get tested?

2If the result of CBC (Complete Blood Count) shows that your body has a lower level of hemoglobin and hematocrit or your healthcare practitioner suspects that you have iron deficiency or too much iron, he/she will suggest you undertake the test.

If a person develops the symptoms or signs of iron deficiency or anemia, the doctor may suggest a ferritin test. The symptoms include

 

  • Chronic tiredness/fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Physical weakness
  • Pale skin (pallor)
  • Headaches

The ferritin is also suggested when a doctor suspects that there is iron overload in the bloodstream. The symptoms of iron overload vary from person to person and the situation only gets worse & worse over time. It’s because unused iron accumulates in the tissues and blood. Some common symptoms are –

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Energy shortage during work
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Organ damage (heart and liver etc.)

For confirming the presence of iron overload in the body, the doctor can order additional tests (iron, TIBC) and the genetic test for identifying hemochromatosis as well.

3How the test is performed

Before performing the test, your doctor may suggest you not to eat anything for up to 12 hours. For performing the test, blood sample is required. The healthcare practitioner will collect the blood by injecting a needle into your arm’s vain.

What is a ferritin used for?

Ferritin test determines the stored iron in a person’s body. Often times, doctor order the test along with other tests like iron level and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC, based on the blood transferrin level) for detecting low iron (iron deficiency) or high iron (iron overload). The test is also useful in assessing the current situation of those conditions.

Normal Results

Normal value range is –

  • Male – 20-500  ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter)
  • Female: 20-500 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter)

If the result is nearby the lower level, even if it’s within the “normal” range, it’s highly likely that the person doesn’t contain enough iron in his/her body.

The numbers presented here are the general measurements of range for this test. The value of normal range may vary from one laboratory to another. It’s because some laboratories use different methods or samples for completing the test. You should contact your doctor beforehand in this respect.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A higher-than-normal ferritin level may be due to –

  • Liver diseases (especially due to alcohol overtaking)
  • Frequent transfusion of red blood cells
  • Autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Too much iron in the body (hemochromatosis)

The lower-than-normal result can also suggest that you have anemia due to iron deficiency in your body. This type of issue can be due to –

  • Taking diet(s) too low in iron
  • Heavy bleeding from an injury
  • Poor iron absorption ability
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Bleeding in the intestines, stomach, or esophagus

Anything else I should know?

Generally, most of the ferritin is inside the cells and only a small amount of it in the blood. That’s why if there’s the iron overload in the body, the additional ferritin comes into the bloodstream, increasing the normal level. The ferritin level can also be increased due to certain conditions like acute illness, even if the iron level of your body is within the normal range.


Formal Name:  Immunoglobulin E

What is Total IgE tested?

Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a type of antibody present in the body. This antibody is produced by the immune system of our body in response to perceived threats. It’s one of the major antibodies (IgA, IgG, IgM, IgD & IgE). Normally, this antibody is present in the blood in a really small amount. This test is for measuring the current state of the IgE population in the blood. Antibodies are proteins that attack the antigens (bacteria, virus and other unwanted substances) and works as a sentry of immunity.

When to use the test?

Your health care provider may order allergy testing if you have symptoms of an allergy. IgE is infamous for those allergic reactions to various things. Your doctor may suggest performing the IgE counting test if you have symptoms of allergy. The symptoms include –

  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Frequently sneezing
  • Watery & itchy eyes
  • Patches of rashes with red hue (hives)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Breath shortness
  • Wheezing

The test procedure

This test doesn’t require any specific preparation. The technician/doctor will collect the blood sample by injecting a needle in the arm’s vein.

Why are IgE (Total) test done?

There are lots of things that can trigger the allergic reaction of a person. Allergic IgE is vastly responsible for the allergic reactions. The antigens include animal dander, pollen, medicine, mold, food, latex, dust mites or insect venom.

What the test result means

Depending on the condition of the person, the number of IgE can vary. If the count of IgE is higher, it indicates that the person is allergic to one or more allergens. After an exposure to such objects, the level of allergen-specific IgE will increase a lot. This level will decline over time if not exposed to that substance. A person having the allergy to seasonal allergens like pollen, both amount of IgE and total IgE will increase during that time. If someone is constantly staying around any allergic object(s) like cat dander or mold in the house, the total IgE level will increase persistently. The total level will indicate whether a person was exposed to an allergic substance, but not the allergic object. In general, the more things a person is allergic to, the higher level of the total IgE.

Anything else I should know?

For identifying a specific allergen, the healthcare practitioner has to order tests to allergen-specific IgE. For example, if the healthcare practitioner suspects the patient having the allergy to cat dander, then he/she has to order a cat dander specific IgE test. If the person is allergic to other things like dog or food, this test will show no problem.

There are some rare cases where total IgE level test is useful in diagnosing the Job syndrome (hyperimmunoglobulin E syndrome). This disease causes a higher level of IgE all the time than normal. There’s also high chance that they may suffer eczema, lung infections, severe skin infections etc. A great increase in the IgE level indicates that the patient may have inherited it. Moreover, this test is also useful in diagnosing & monitoring multiple myeloma.

Is there any way to reduce the IgE level?

If you know that you’re allergic to something, avoid those at all costs. The total IgE won’t change even if you change of lifestyle and attempts to lower the count won’t resolve your allergy.