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What to do When Fasting for a Blood Test

Updated on July 10, 2015

To Fast or Not to Fast.That is the Question.

When getting your blood drawn it is important to determine whether or not you should be fasting. This is especially important if you are having your cholesterol or glucose monitored for health concerns but equally detrimental when getting a physical. Why is it important?

Take for instance, you eat a big breakfast an hour before getting your blood drawn. Naturally, your glucose level will rise before your pancreas reacts and emits insulin to account for the breakdown of carbohydrates and sugar in your blood. If the doctor is evaluating your glucose levels assuming you were fasting, the results may send a red flag to the doctor, who will insist that you be evaluated for a diabetic condition. This will lead to additional unnecessary testing which will mean more doctors and lab fees, therefore, resulting in more out of pocket expenses for the patient.

Many healthcare workers will evaluate whether a patient is fasting or not but it can be confusing when determining this factor.

What is Fasting?

In many cultures, fasting can mean several things. Culturally it could mean not eating or drinking anything from sun up to sun down. Fasting for a blood draw is different. Here are the guidelines of fasting.

1. Do not eat for 8-12 hours depending on the doctor. Please consult with your doctor on his or her particular preference.

2. Water is allowed. Most people think that you can not eat or drink anything when fasting for a blood draw. This is not true. You can drink as much water as you want. It is actually encouraged to ensure an easy process, especially if you have difficulty in this area. Your phlebotomist or lab assistant will thank you.

3. Coffee or Tea: Unless caffeine is a restriction, you can drink black coffee or plain tea. You do not have to deprive yourself if it is not necessary. Most doctors are mainly concerned with the sugar and cream intake prior to testing.

4. Alcohol Consumption: It is not recommended for at least twenty four hours before testing as it may raise your kidney or liver levels that is generally tested in some panels. If you are interested in finding out the affects drinking alcohol has on your body, by all means have a few drinks, but not within the 8-12 hour fasting range.

5. Medications: you can consult with your physician but most medications are permitted unless that particular medication is being monitored.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.

When it comes to your health, it is encouraged to ask questions and keep a record of tests. If there is an aspect of your blood draw that you want to know about, whether you need to be fasting or if a specific test is being ordered because of a condition or symptom you may have, speak up. It may be detrimental to your health.

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© 2015 Davida Ryan


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