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What is tested for during a routine blood test?

Had a physical the other day at the doctor's office and he took some blood. Said it was routine. What do they test for in these routine blood tests?
This is a great question because the phrase 'routine blood tests' is common in doctors' offices, and sometimes it is not very well explained! When you have a physical examination, there are several blood tests that are commonly done, depending on your age and your risk factors. For example, most adults, even if they are healthy, should have screening for high cholesterol levels at least once. This is probably the most common 'routine test' that doctors would do at a physical examination. Additionally, many doctors will screen for diabetes with blood tests. Depending on whether your blood pressure was elevated, they may also screen for kidney problems. Finally, many adults need screening for sexually transmitted diseases and for HIV infection. If other things turned up on the physical examination, other tests may be ordered as well. For example, many doctors will screen for thyroid function, while others will screen for vitamin D levels. These tests tend to be highly individualized, and depend on your occupation, gender, age, ethnicity, and symptoms. If you have particular questions, contact your primary care doctor's office and ask them what specifically was ordered in terms of tests. I am sure they will be happy to let you know!
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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