By Channing King
Have you been told your lab tests were normal, yet you still feel lousy? If so, you’re not alone. Many people with health issues turn to lab tests for answers, but when their lab tests tell them they’re “normal,” they leave their doctors’ offices wondering if it’s all in their heads.
A major factor for this occurrence is that patients are often evaluated by lab values, rather than functional values. I’m going to attempt to explain to you the differences between lab values and functional values and give you examples of both.
First, in relation to blood work, let’s talk about lab values. These are the typical values evaluated medically. Lab values are very wide. They’re computed by taking the sick people that visited the lab the year before and comparing those numbers to yours. Therefore, in order to be declared to be suffering from an ailment, your values must be weaker than those with health issues the year before. This causes problems for people that have health issues that aren’t extreme enough to fall within the lab values. These patients are typically told their health is normal; however, they still feel and function poorly.
Next, let’s talk about functional lab values. If you think about it, every part of your body has a certain level to function properly. The markers in your blood are no different. Functional values are taken from the Endocrine Society and are much more specific. They’re not wide values like lab values, rather, they are narrow values to help pinpoint specific health problems.
Patients have had normal lab values who had very poor function, so their functional levels were checked and discovered areas that needed to be treated. In order to properly treat a condition, the functional values must be assessed, and in order to improve, the functional values must be treated.