How are my labs normal when I feel terrible?

“Your lab work is fine, you’re in the “normal” reference range!” Has your physician ever to said that to you?

Frequently in medicine, when you have your blood drawn to check various indicators of health in your body e.g. your cholesterol or blood sugar, your health practitioner usually suggests everything is ok as long as you fall within the “normal” reference range. However, being “normal” within a very large and broad reference range falsely misleads and lulls us into thinking our bodies are doing fine when in fact, we are really slowly developing a disease.

This is why it is important to discern where your lab numbers are ending up within that broad normal range..e.g. are they in the lower end, the middle or the upper end of the range.

This concept of where you end up in the reference range is vital because disease runs along a continuum-i.e. it does not just happen all of a sudden overnight. Diabetes is an example where you can be living your life for 10-20 years, thinking that everything is ok and meanwhile in the background your blood sugar is silently creeping up all the while within the reference range.

It is kind of like walking to the edge of a cliff…the closer you get to the edge…5 feet, 4 feet, 3 feet, 1 foot, 6 inches etc the scarier it becomes. As you get closer to the edge of the cliff, you still have not fallen off but the risk of falling is getting higher…So do you really want to wait until you are at the edge of the reference range before you decide to act or you’ve developed a disease?

In my practice, I focus on preventing diseases before they occur. I use the idea then of a functional range which has a tighter range within the normal reference range that enables a person to see if they are achieving optimal health or if they are edging closer and sliding down the slippery slope of disease.

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