It’s such a simple question and yet, I bet your own opinion of how you feel matters little to your doctors. It’s quite frequent that you’re told not to worry about your health if a lab test comes back as “normal.” The assumption is made that nothing’s wrong. New research suggests that how you FEEL is a more reliable indicator of future illness than your labs.
Researchers from Rice University in Texas have reason to believe that how you feel holds greater value than blood tests do. I concur.
If you were talking to me, I would trust what you tell me more than I do any piece of paper from a lab.
For one, the reference ranges on labs are often bad because they were determined by a sick population. Your blood samples may not have been centrifuged long enough. Maybe it wasn’t refrigerated in transit. There are so many other reasons too.
This reminds me of a one-man experiment I did recently. I wanted to see what happens when you use two different labs to measure the same thing. My husband Sam has given me permission to share some things about him, including how we test him (and sometimes me) for experimental purposes so I can write to you from a true and genuine experience. Once we tested food sensitivities (for both of us) using two different labs. The blood was taken on the same day for each of us. The results were completely and totally different from the two different labs! One showed a horrible allergy to mango, and another lab said it was fine.
One lab said gluten antibodies were non-existent and the other lab showed sky-high antibodies to the wheat protein. And there were a dozen more discrepancies between the two labs that tested us. So how are you supposed to know what to eat? How are you supposed to know if your labs are correct. It’s impossible. You can go crazy and there’s no solution that I can offer. As another example, more recently, Sam let me test his c4a levels, which is a measure of inflammation in the body. Quest determined the level to be 9,725 (dangerously high!) while Labcorp said it was 319 (normal).
Those are real numbers, that is not a typo!
Can you see how messed up your treatment regimen will be if you rely solely on labs?
The numbers could be off by thousands!
I’m not anti-lab, it’s a piece of the puzzle, NOT THE WHOLE PUZZLE. I’m definitely in favor of certain labs, and reproducibility, and I’d like the labs to match how you feel. Sometimes the biomarkers that doctors test you for are just for screening, rendering them pretty useless IMHO (in my humble opinion). For example, thyroid testing and dosage changes are often based upon your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) blood test, but you realize that isn’t measuring your thyroid hormone right? And “Total Cholesterol” labs are useless because they don’t tell you “particle size” or “number,” yet a bazillion statin prescriptions have been written based upon this number.
So when I read the research conducted by Dr. Kyle Murdock, Dr. Christopher Fagunde and the rest of their team, it made a ton of sense to me. The truth is: Physicians should stop telling you everything is fine when your labs are “normal” and you are sitting there in tears trying to explain that something is wrong. You should not be ignored if you’re not feeling any better on medication. They should trust you. And YOU dear friends should trust your own instinct. This is not an excuse to go all hypochondriac on me okay? I’m just saying to trust that gut feeling you have.
I’m just saying if you feel bad, keep digging at what the root cause is. I’m also hoping you don’t go order a cheeseburger and fries to celebrate your “normal” cholesterol. According to Dr. Christofer Fagundes, a Professor of Psychology at Rice University, “When a patient says, ‘I don’t feel like my health is very good right now,’ it’s a meaningful thing with a biological basis, even if they don’t show symptoms.”
How happy would you be to know that “it’s not in your head” and how awesome would it be if you were taken seriously? If you’d like more reading about this, the study was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology. The scientists reviewed self-assessment data and blood samples from about 1,500 people who had been examined for the herpes virus, which could cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Mono… or genital herpes… and chicken pox. The herpes category of organisms is bigger than one germ. Anyway, the patients all had really good inflammatory biomarkers measured.
The rationale behind this is if you have herpes, it’s a good indicator because the virus is not always active… it hides in your spinal cord and in your body. It can reactivate itself years later in many ways, including painful shingles. A late infection can still spark a host of challenging health problems for you due to the widespread production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (pain-causing compounds).
Tests for inflammation are often ignored by doctors, but you can easily do them. The study I’m referring to today found that when people said they felt badly, they still had high virus and inflammation levels. People who reported feeling well had low virus and inflammation levels. Standard of care tests like a CBC or Cholesterol Level or other basic tests will never find this, yet you would feel awful. Some of the names of labs that I feel are good include:
* C Reactive protein
* Stimulated Cytokines
* Levels of c3a and c4a complement
* Titers of antibodies for CMV, EBV, HHV-6 and others specific to herpes viruses if you are worried about those
* Cyrex Arrays – all of them are good and these are my favorite tests: Array #3, 4, 5 and 20 if you can afford them all.
(Their website is www.joincyrex.com if you’re physician wants to use their tests, they don’t sell direct to patients)
Antibody tests and tests for inflammation are better for you than a SMAC blood test, yet they are often skipped by primary care physicians. Don’t skip them if you feel bad. I’ll write more about tests for inflammation in a future column. For now, trust yourself, and your intuition, not your lab tests.
Labs are frequently wrong.
Getting your doctor to LISTEN to you and to truly care how you fare out is hard to do. Trust me I’ve had personal experience with a few docs that wanted to talk more than listen to their patient’s complaint. If you want to read my article, “I got into a fight with a doctor” click here. There’s this saying “History, history, history!” meaning that doc should take a good, solid medical history on you because from this, it’s easier to uncover what the first domino was in your health crisis. To close this topic up, I’d like to hear from you. If you have a brief comment about what YOU DID to get your physician to treat you better, I’d love to hear it, you can email us at [email protected] This email is not to ask medical me questions, I can’t answer those, but I would like to know if you have a method to get your practitioner to pay better attention to you. Thanks!