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The Difference Between HSA and FSA

For many of us, the end of the calendar year does not just mean it’s the holiday season — it’s also open enrollment time for health insurance. Whether you are signing up on marketplace, in your workplace, or independently — this is when many of us look ahead to determine what kind of healthcare coverage we will want to choose going into 2023.

Navigating healthcare coverage choices and terminology can be challenging. After all, most of us only worry about this stuff once a year, wait for our insurance card, and forget about it. But to help you get acclimated to this year’s enrollment, let’s review some terms, so you make good choices and get the most bang for your buck.

You’ll see the acronyms HSA and FSA come up frequently as you troll through healthcare information. There is a significant difference between the two.

What is an HSA?

Heathcare.gov describes an HSA as a type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. The untaxed funds in the Health Savings Account can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses like deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and some other expenses — resulting in lower out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

But here’s something important to note — HSAs can be used ONLY with high-deductible health plans, which is the choice for about 30 million Americans right now.

When to Use an HSA

Here’s an example of when you would use your HSA. Let’s say you break your arm. Ouch. To correct the injury, you need surgery. Even though your health insurance may cover the bulk of the surgery, your patient responsibility or co-pay might be several hundred dollars. You can use the money you tucked away in your HSA to pay that deductible.

There are some dos and don’ts when it comes to using your HSA funds. Let’s unpack one. If you travel internationally, either through work or leisure, you can use your HSA to pay for treatment in a foreign country as well as any prescribed drug you purchase and consume in another country if the drug is legal in both the other country and the United States.

There are many stipulations regarding the use of an HSA. It’s best to check what counts as a qualified medical expense based on criteria set by the IRS. If you use your HSA for an expense other than eligible medical expenses, you can subject yourself to significant IRS penalties after being flagged for an audit.

What Is an FSA?

An FSA, or Flexible Spending Account, is similar to an HSA. If you have a health plan through a job, you can use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for copayments, deductibles, some drugs, and some other healthcare costs.

A Flexible Spending Account is a special account you put money into that you use to pay for certain out-of-pocket health care costs without paying taxes on that money.

Sometimes an employer will make contributions to your FSA, although it’s not required, or money can be taken from your paycheck and put into the FSA.

FSA vs. HSA

Here are two very important differences between these two savings plans.

  1. Generally, you must use the money in an FSA within the plan year. An HSA, on the other hand, has no “use it or lose it” provision. HSA money is there for you to use well into the future.
  2. You own the money in your HSA. Your employer owns the money in your FSA.

Utilizing Health Accounts at Any Lab Test Now®

One of the medical expenses you can pay for with both an HSA and FSA is diagnostic lab work from Any Lab Test Now®. We have thousands of tests available to you, providing comprehensive health screenings that allow you to focus on your family’s health.

At Any Lab Test Now®, we provide clear, concise, and understandable results. You also have the option to glean additional information with our DialCare service. This allows you to consult with our provider about your results. The clarity you receive from a medical professional can affect the way you handle your health and can be lifesaving.

Remember, at Any Lab Test Now®, the lab tests we provide are confidential, affordable, and convenient. You own the results, and you choose how to proceed with them, whether that means consulting with your provider for further details or perhaps the results give you the peace of mind you were seeking.

Obtaining lab testing through blood tests is a very precise indicator of your health. It tracks your overall well-being, can detect issues with organs, or how well you are managing a disease. It is an important look at your overall wellness.

Stay on top of your family’s health by utilizing our diagnostic lab testing, which can be paid for using your FSA or HSA. Call now to schedule an appointment at a location near you.

COVID-19 AND UNDERLYING CONDITIONS

We’ve heard it ever since COVID-19 came on the scene. People with underlying conditions who contract the virus are at higher risk of developing more severe cases of COVID-19 cases that can seriously impact their lives. According to surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control, hospitalizations have been six times higher and deaths 12 times higher among those with reported underlying conditions compared to those with no reported preexisting conditions. There are more than 26 different underlying conditions included on the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 warning list. However, three underlying conditions are known to show a strong connection to COVID-19’s worst outcomes. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, nearly two-thirds of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were attributable to hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. In other words, these hospitalizations might not have occurred if these conditions had not been present.

Let’s take a closer look at a few common underlying conditions and learn how Any Lab Test Now® can help you Take Control of Your Health™.

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE AND COVID-19

COVID-19 has been linked directly to multiple heart-related issues. According to the American Heart Association, it has contributed indirectly to deaths among people who had cardiac problems but delayed getting treatment.

Conditions include: 

  • Heart failure – a condition in which the heart does not pump blood effectively
  • Coronary artery disease – which leads to blocked arteries
  • Cardiomyopathy – a weakening, thinning, and/or thickening of the heart muscle

These conditions can lead to more severe cases of COVID-19. One of the main concerns for people with underlying heart conditions is that the virus could cause respiratory stress that would worsen those conditions. The best solution is to continue taking usual medications and frequent observation. Our Heart Health Panel includes four tests to monitor your cardiac status. This panel can be used to gain a baseline assessment of your heart health or as a monitoring tool to reveal possible risk factors.

HYPERTENSION and COVID-19

Blood pressure is the pressure that comes from the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. If blood pressure remains high for a long time, it can damage the heart and cause other health problems, including heart attack and stroke. People with hypertension or high blood pressure have a decreased immune response, putting them at higher risk of severe complications related to COVID-19.

Nearly half of adults in the United States have hypertension and are prescribed medication to treat it. However, reports from the CDC show that only about one in four adults with hypertension have their condition under control.

Uncontrolled hypertension has been found to:

  • Lower your immunity: High blood pressure suppresses the immune system, increasing the risk of contracting an infectious disease like COVID-19
  • Increase the risk of lung injury: Uncontrolled high blood pressure has also been found to increase the severity of lung injury and mortality in those afflicted with COVID-19.

Taking medications as prescribed and using a blood pressure monitor to track levels are keys to living a heart-healthy life.

Experts suggest the following protocols to prevent or reduce hypertension:

  • Exercise
  • Eat heart-healthy foods like colorful vegetables and whole grains
  • Lose weight
  • Manage stress
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Quit smoking

Laboratory testing does not diagnose hypertension, but routine lab tests like a Urinalysis or Comprehensive Metabolic Panel are recommended before beginning treatment of high blood pressure to detect conditions that may cause and/or make high blood pressure worse and to evaluate and monitor organ function over time. 

COVID-19 and DIABETES

One in every 10 Americans across all ages — that’s more than 34 million people — are dealing with this metabolic disorder. It’s estimated that people with diabetes are more likely to have worse complications and severe symptoms when infected with the virus, apparent in individuals with both type 2 and type 1 diabetes. 

Types of Diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes is a disorder in which the pancreas stops working, and most of the insulin-producing cells in the body are destroyed by an immune process. Type 1 typically develops in childhood. 
  • Type 2 shows up later in life. Type 2 diabetics don’t respond to insulin as well as they should. Lifestyle factors, including being overweight and inactivity, may play a role in the disease.

Viral infections such as COVID-19 can increase inflammation, or internal swelling, in people with diabetes. Inflammation can also be caused by above-target blood sugars and could contribute to more severe complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a condition that can be experienced by people with type 1 diabetes. DKA can make it challenging to manage fluid intake and electrolyte levels — which is vital in managing sepsis. Sepsis and septic shock are some of the more severe complications that some people with COVID-19 have experienced.

Your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 is likely to be lower if your diabetes is well-managed. Many diabetics use Any Lab Test Now to help them effectively control their condition. The Diabetes Maintenance Panel provides diabetics with a lot of important information about their condition. 

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) – Tests for blood disorders such as infection or anemia.  
  • Hemoglobin A1C – This is a key test for diabetics. It measures the average blood sugar levels over the past three months.
  • Diabetic Urinalysis – Determines if albumin (protein) is in the blood, which would indicate a problem with the kidneys.


STAY SAFE

Adherence to social distancing protocols can help lower the risk of catching the coronavirus. These include:

  • Limiting the number of people you come into contact with
  • Wearing a mask, especially around people
  • Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Wiping surfaces with sanitation wipes
  • Using hand sanitizer 


BE AT EASE

Any Lab Test Now wants you to be at ease when it comes to seeking out any type of lab work. We provide you a safe and clean alternative location for lab work. Each of our 190+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s healthcare so you can make educated decisions that will directly affect your quality of life. We want to put you at ease during the coronavirus outbreak. We are here to help. 

Find your closest Any Lab Test Now store at www.anylabtestnow.com.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month Is a Reminder to Get an Overall Health Checkup!

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women everywhere are encouraged to remember the importance of getting checked. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect every aspect of daily life, our health routines should not take a toll. Breast cancer is easier to treat when detected early.  The increased awareness surrounding breast cancer not only saves lives through prevention, but also serves as a reminder to get checked for a variety of other health concerns. Self-awareness of your health status is crucial.  The attention given to this month brings awareness that makes a difference for millions of women each year. While breast cancer screenings may be at the top of mind, keep reading for three recommended lab tests that provide a more comprehensive overview of your health status.

In addition to getting a screening, one of the easiest things a woman can do to try and reduce her risk of breast cancer is to take charge of certain aspects of her health she can control, such as diet, exercise, and weight management. When considering which lifestyle changes are best for you, consider these breast cancer statistics.

Shocking facts about breast cancer:

  • Globally, breast cancer is now the most common form of cancer as of 2021.
  • As of January 2021, there were more than 3.8 million women in the U.S. with a history of breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2021, it’s estimated that about 30 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.

Those facts, while difficult to ignore, are only one side of the fight against breast cancer. Awareness and commitment to early detection have saved lives. Between earlier detection and advancements in treatment, death rates in women above age 50 have dropped considerably in the past several years. Studies show that more than three-quarters of women between the ages of 50 and 74 have been screened in the past two years. The overall death rate from breast cancer has decreased 1% per year in the five-year period from 2013 to 2018.

 Types of Breast Exams and Tests to Detect Cancer Early

According to the CDC, women between ages 50 and 74 should be screened for breast cancer with a mammogram every two years. Women aged 40 to 49 should discuss their medical history with their doctor to determine when to begin mammograms.

There are several forms of exams and screening that can help detect breast cancer, including:

  • Self-Awareness – Every woman should be familiar with how their breasts look and feel so that any changes can be detected. Report any changes you notice to your doctor.
  • Clinical Breast Exam – An examination by a doctor or nurse, feeling for lumps or changes by hand.
  • Mammogram – An x-ray of the breast, often considered the best way to detect breast cancer early. Regular mammograms are recommended, especially as women become older.
  • Breast MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging uses magnets and radio waves to generate a picture of the breast. MRIs are used along with mammograms for women at high risk of breast cancer.

Get the Full Picture of Your Health

Pandemic or not, there are certain comprehensive lab panels and tests that are often neglected. Getting a blood work is a crucial component of any health and wellness program. It’s a great way to get a more detailed recommendation from your doctor based on your body analysis. Lab testing reveals information about the body that can signal warning areas or anomalies to help you and your doctor take immediate action. Getting tested in routine intervals allows you to self-monitor how your body changes over time, spot problems early on, and provide insight into how one could make subtle changes to their diet or lifestyle to optimize their health.

These tests are easily accessible at Any Lab Test Now®, and the results could have a major impact on your health decisions moving forward.

  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel – Includes 14 essential tests that are part of a routine checkup, testing for sodium, potassium, calcium, glucose, and others.
  • Comprehensive Female Panel – This panel helps women to recognize and address any hormone imbalances through blood counts, kidney and liver functions, thyroid, and heart health.
  • Diabetes Maintenance Panel – Includes four tests that can help detect or manage diabetes. It can also determine whether the kidneys are functioning properly.

Take Control of Your Health

These tests not only help you to understand the full picture of your overall health but can help you and your doctor make informed decisions on how best to take control of your well-being. Identifying any issues are the first step to addressing them. In the same way awareness helps women detect breast cancer earlier, the more time you have to recognize any other common issue is a major benefit to maintaining and reclaiming a healthy life.

Take Comfort in Our Service

Any Lab Test Now is determined to help people live healthy lives by providing a simplified option when it comes to seeking any type of lab work.  We have 190+ locations across the U.S. that are sanitized several times per day in accordance with the CDC’s standards. We offer 8,000+ testing options that give a detailed analysis of your health status. You can’t fix what you don’t know! Use direct-access lab tests to keep tabs on your health. Monitor on your own or discuss with your doctor to spark a lifestyle change that will allow you to better understand your body and learn to manage your healthcare proactively.

From offering a wide range of lab tests, to providing a safe and clean alternative for Americans to get tested during the coronavirus pandemic, Any Lab Test Now is committed to helping families make educated decisions about their health.

For more information about Any Lab Test Now, and the tests we offer, visit us at www.anylabtestnow.com.

 

Three Important Tests Your Child Might Need

Being a parent seems to be harder than ever. On top of the peer pressure that traditionally comes with adolescence, now we have to contend with strong social media influences. Add to that a pandemic, which has undoubtedly turned life upside down for everyone, including our children. One of the biggest concerns for parents is keeping their children safe and healthy. As a parent, there are several options you can take to make sure your child’s health is on track, starting with the right lab test.

3 CRUCIAL LAB TESTS TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR CHILD:

1. COVID 19 RT-PCR TEST
These days, the first sign of a fever and a cough will have any parent worried that their child might have contracted COVID-19. While these signs are indicative of COVID-19, there are symptoms that children experience that most adults do not —including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other more common signs include body aches, fatigue, sore throat, and shortness of breath, as well as the most specific symptoms of COVID-19 — the loss of taste and smell. COVID symptoms can start within two to fourteen days after exposure. However, the average time for symptoms to show is usually five to seven days. The only way to know for sure if your child has COVID-19 is to have them tested.

Our COVID-19 RT-PCR Test has the highest accuracy rate with close to 100 percent. This test is a molecular test that detects the virus’s genetic material.

There are three ways to collect a specimen:

  • A long swab inserted into the back of the nasal passage
  • A short swab that goes into your nose
  • A saliva sample in which your child simply spits into a collection cup

If your child tests positive for COVID-19, health experts recommend you take the following steps:

Isolate – Separate your child as best you can from anyone in the household who is at high risk of severe COVID-19 illness. This includes anyone who is immune-compromised and senior citizens.
Inform – Let your child’s school, daycare, sports team, and anyone who has had close contact with your child know so that people who have been exposed can get tested.
Quarantine – Keep your child home for ten days after a positive test result.
Cover Up – Wear masks while at home. This includes everyone who is in the house, as well as the sick child, if possible.
Clean – Encourage frequent hand washing. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs.

While you can get a COVID-19 test for free in most cities, there are long wait times. Many sites have also cut back hours and limited testing days. Pediatrician offices are also backed up. High demand for the test is also causing some labs to take seven to 10 days to return results. Any Lab Test Now offers all three versions of the RT-PCR test so you can decide which one is best for your child. Unlike public testing sites or pediatrician offices, there is no appointment necessary at Any Lab Test Now, and wait times, if any, are minimal. Next-day or, in some cases, same-day results are available, which is critical when you are dealing with a virus such as COVID-19.

Click here to learn more about the COVID-19 RT-PCR test at Any Lab Test Now and find a location nearest you.

2. ALLERGY TESTING
Allergies of some form or another are extremely common in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that more than 50 million Americans have allergies, which usually appear in early childhood. They can impact your child’s ability to get a full night’s sleep, play, and learn, so identifying what your child is allergic to early on will help improve their quality of life.

Our Basic (Pediatric) Allergy Panel tests for allergies to 32 environmental substances and foods including:

  • 8 Common types of grass and weeds, including ragweed
  • House dust mites, pet dander for cats and dogs
  • 7 Common fruits and vegetables
  • 3 Dairy products: including cow’s milk, soft cheese, and eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Grains including wheat and soybeans
  • Meats including tuna, beef, and chicken
  • Sugar and chocolate

The most common allergy symptoms in children include:

  • Skin rashes or hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, or itchy eyes
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea

Here are some of the most common allergy triggers for children:

Outdoor irritants
Allergic rhinitis, also known as “hay fever,” is the most common childhood ailment caused by allergies. Symptoms include a runny and itchy nose, sneezing, postnasal drip, and nasal congestion. A child with allergies may also have itchy, watery, red eyes and chronic ear problems.

Other common outdoor irritants include:

  • Tree pollen
  • Plant pollen
  • Insect bites or stings

Indoor irritants
While considered to be a haven, our homes are not so safe for children sensitive to irritants found indoors. In fact, one in six children has an indoor allergy. Believe it or not, dust is one of the most common indoor allergies among kids. Those pesky specks of dust don’t just collect on tabletops. It can collect in soft, cozy places your child encounters daily, such as pillows and stuffed animals. Food allergies are also extremely common in children. More than six million children have some form of food allergy. The foods that cause the most severe and potentially deadly reactions are peanuts and shellfish. There are dozens of other foods that can trigger allergic reactions in children — anything from beef and pork to milk and eggs. Pets are another source of allergy-related sniffles and sneezes in children. Cats are usually the culprit, but dogs can often cause allergy problems too.

Other common indoor irritants include:

  • Mold
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfume

Identifying Allergies
In the past, children were subjected to hundreds of needle pricks containing different possible allergens to determine which ones caused the strongest reactions.  Any Lab Test Now offers a Basic (Pediatric) Allergy Panel that can test kids’ allergies with a simple blood draw. Within 48–72 hours, you will receive a report detailing what, if any, of the 32 most common environmental substances and foods might trigger an allergic reaction in your child.

3. DRUG TESTS
Drug use is a sensitive topic for most parents. No one wants to think their child is experimenting with drugs, but parents need to accept the fact that there is a good chance they will if they haven’t already.

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics:

  • Drug use among eighth-graders increased 61 percent between 2016 and 2020.
  • Sixty-two percent of teenagers have abused alcohol by the time they reach 12th grade.
  • Fifty percent of teenagers have misused a drug at least once.
  • Eighty-six percent of teenagers know someone who smokes, drinks, or uses drugs during the school day.

Marijuana Use
Marijuana is one of the most prevalent drugs of choice among kids, second only to alcohol. One in six adolescents is likely to become addicted to it. Despite the decriminalization of marijuana in many states, the drug is not harmless. It is highly addictive and can lead to psychotic behavior in some children. Not only that, but marijuana can also lead to lung damage.

Opioids and Prescription Drugs
Opioid and other prescription drug abuse among children is considered a national public health emergency. According to experts, since these drugs are prescribed by doctors, children may have a false sense that these types of drugs are not dangerous. However, that is far from true.

  • Overdose deaths connected to opioids increased 500 percent among 15- to 24-year-olds since 1999.
  • 3 percent of 12th-graders have abused opioids at least once.
  • In the past year, 2.4 percent of 12th-graders abused OxyContin while 1.2 percent abused Vicodin.

E-Cigarettes and Vaping
Vaping among teens is skyrocketing. A recent study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed more than a third of high school students tried it over the last year. The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued an advisory about vaping, calling it an epidemic and urging parents to keep their kids away from e-cigarettes. Many kids believe vaping products are a safe alternative to traditional forms of tobacco. Vaping puts high amounts of nicotine into the body. In certain cases, one vape pen can contain the nicotine equivalent of 20 regular cigarettes. Nicotine is highly addictive and can:

  • Slow brain development in teens; affecting memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention, and mood.
  • Can increase the risk of other types of addiction later in life.
  • May cause severe lung damage and even death.

Drug Testing Options
Information is a powerful tool for parents. Any Lab Test Now has developed several comprehensive drug testing programs to help provide you with the information you need regarding your child’s possible drug use. It can also be beneficial to your teen — not only when it comes to their health and overall well-being but also dealing with peer pressure. When your teen knows they can be randomly drug tested at any time and shares that information with their friends, they can say “no” to drugs more easily.

At Any Lab Test Now, teen drug testing options include:

  • Rapid drug screens for when you need to know now.
  • Lab-based drug screens and confirmations of drug screens for your assurance, including but not limited to opioids and prescription medications, marijuana, cocaine, and synthetic designer drugs.
  • Tobacco testing to determine the presence of nicotine in the system.

Depending on the test, your child will provide a sample of saliva, hair, urine, or blood. Drug testing at Any Lab Test Now is confidential. No one will have access to your child’s results except for you. You own the results, and you can even use an anonymous name to protect your child’s identity. Most importantly, the results will give you and other loved one’s answers so you can take next steps if needed.

BE AT EASE
No matter what type of lab work your child needs, you can be at ease seeking out any type of diagnostic testing at Any Lab Test Now.  We provide you a safe and clean alternative location for lab work. Each of our 190+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s healthcare so you can make educated decisions that will directly affect your quality of life. We want to put you at ease during the coronavirus outbreak. We are here to help.

Find your closest Any Lab Test Now store at www.anylabtestnow.com.

Summer Season Foods That Help Keep Your Cholesterol in Check

Summer apparently does a body good! Research shows cholesterol levels seem to fluctuate significantly with the seasons. Our craving for fatty comfort food increases in the winter, which raises cholesterol levels. On the other hand, the lowest levels of the dangerous substance register in the summer months. It’s not so much about the heat; it’s what we eat, or don’t eat, when the weather warms up.

Before we get into the summer diet changes you might want to adopt to keep your cholesterol in check  year-round, it is important to know the facts about cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells in your body. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. Yes, need. Your body needs cholesterol to build cells and make vitamins and hormones. The extra cholesterol in your body comes from foods you consume – such as meat, poultry, dairy products, and tropical oils. Some of those foods are high in saturated and trans fats, which cause your liver to make more cholesterol than it should.

You may have heard that there are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is bad, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is good. Too much of the bad kind, or not enough of the good kind, increases the risk cholesterol will slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain and lead to serious health issues such as a heart attack or stroke.

Experts say you should not shrug off the potential health effects of the seasonal fluctuations in your cholesterol levels. In fact, it might be a great idea to consider adding a bit of summer all year long when it comes to your eating habits.

Here are some summer-season foods that can help lower your cholesterol levels.

Apricots – This fruit is a great source of fiber. Fiber allows the body to get rid of cholesterol. The high beta carotene content in apricots also helps prevent LDL cholesterol (the bad one) from oxidizing and clogging arteries. Fresh apricots are in season during late spring and throughout the summer. You can easily import this healthy fruit into your winter diet by eating dried apricots, which will provide the same health benefits.

Raspberries – Also a fantastic source of cholesterol-busting fiber, these little berries are packed with tons of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin B2, folate, niacin, magnesium, potassium, and copper. While considered a summer staple, raspberries are grown and distributed across the country well into November.

Avocados – While popular in summer salads and side dishes like guacamole, this green goodie is usually available all year round. Research suggests that adding an avocado a day to a heart-healthy diet can help improve LDL cholesterol levels in people who are overweight or obese.

Asparagus – This high fiber vegetable also contains compounds called saponins, which have repeatedly been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Their intake has also been associated with improved blood pressure, improved blood sugar regulation, and better control of blood cholesterol levels. If you can’t find fresh, you can substitute canned or frozen asparagus.

Of course, you can’t lower your cholesterol levels by eating one or two of these foods on a random basis. Health experts recommend following a balanced diet combined with regular exercise.

Check Your Levels

Regular testing is an easy way to keep track of your cholesterol levels. Any Lab Test Now® offers the most advanced cholesterol panel available. The Lipoprotein Particle Profile Plus (LPP+) measures the size and density of your LDL cholesterol to provide you with the clearest picture of your cardiovascular risk.

You don’t need a doctor’s order to get your cholesterol checked, and you can walk in for same-day testing at any of our locations. Once you have your results, you can consult with a physician to find out if treatment is necessary. To learn more about the LPP+ screening, click here.

Be at Ease

Any Lab Test Now wants you to be at ease when it comes to seeking out any type of lab work, including determining your cholesterol levels.

We provide you a safe and clean alternative location for lab work. Each of our 190+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s healthcare so you can make educated decisions that will directly affect your quality of life. We want to put you at ease during the coronavirus pandemic. We are here to help.

Find your closest Any Lab Test Now store at www.anylabtestnow.com.

Tackling Food Intolerance With a Simple Test

If you need a nap on Thanksgiving after indulging in all the delicious food, you’re not alone. But if tackling a big plate of turkey with all the fixings makes your stomach ache, overeating might not be the reason for your discomfort.

One in four people have a food intolerance, but many are unaware because they already tested negative for food allergies. A food allergy sparks an immune system reaction and can produce life-threatening symptoms. A food intolerance, on the other hand, causes a host of digestive issues, including nausea, cramps, diarrhea and gas. In many cases, a person with a food sensitivity lacks the enzymes needed to digest the protein found in certain foods. The most common culprits of food intolerance are dairy and gluten, according to Mayo Clinic.

Don’t miss any Thanksgiving football games by continuing to eat the same foods that send you to the bathroom this holiday season. A visit to your nearest Any Lab Test Now location can help alleviate some of your holiday stress by helping you learn what foods you need to avoid during the season and beyond. Any Lab Test Now provides walk-in medical testing without a trip to the doctor’s office.

A certified medical assistant at your local Any Lab Test Now location can consult with you on your symptoms to determine which simple blood test is right for you. The Gluten Allergy Tests lgE will let you know whether you have a food intolerance to gluten. If you don’t think gluten is responsible for your stomach woes, Any Lab Test Now offers a 50 food panel, which will get to the bottom of your discomfort.

Aside from lacking enzymes needed to digest certain foods, other causes of food intolerance include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sensitivity to food additives
  • Stress
  • Celiac disease — an autoimmune disease that flares when a person eats gluten. Approximately 3 million Americans suffer from this disease, according to WebMD

Key triggers to avoid

While gluten and dairy are the top sources of food intolerance, they are not the only two foods that give people grief. Chemicals added to food to prevent bacteria growth and add flavor, like MSG, wreak havoc on the digestive tract, revealed Cleveland Clinic. Sulfites hide out in red wine and occur naturally in some foods. Dried fruits, canned food and baked goods often contain sulfites. And the bad news is, many of these food triggers are part of your Thanksgiving spread in the form of pies, casseroles and alcoholic beverages.

Long laundry-list of symptoms

Most people with a food intolerance complain about digestive distress — nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas and bloating are all common. But the symptoms of food sensitivity do not end when the toilet flushes. Food intolerance can also cause heartburn, headaches, irritability and nervousness, Cleveland Clinic reported. Some patients report joint pain and overall fatigue. Patients with sulfite sensitivity can suffer from mild wheezing to a more serious breathing problem requiring medical attention, WebMD revealed.

The diagnosis of a food sensitivity does not have to ruin your holiday fun. There are three simple strategies you can take once you know your food intolerances.

Find a food substitution

Gluten-free substitutes for pasta, breads and sweets can be found at any grocery store. If you’re diagnosed with an intolerance to dairy, make your mashed potatoes with a non-dairy alternative such as oat milk or lactose-free milk. Relying on food substitutions is trickier during the holiday season because someone else is often doing the cooking, but paying attention to ingredients and making alternatives of your favorite dishes will pay off.

Cut back on portion size

Holiday tables typically welcome elastic pants and loosened belts. Eating big meals, finishing the bottle of wine and sneaking cookies all add to the magic of the season. Don’t be afraid to indulge, but cut portion sizes on your food triggers. Many people with food sensitivities can alleviate unpleasant symptoms simply by eating smaller portions of the offending food. This Thanksgiving, take half a piece of pumpkin pie if you have a sensitivity to gluten, instead of double helpings. Your stomach will thank you.

Read food labels

Gluten and dairy are easy to spot. But some of the other food triggers are difficult to identify. Reading food labels is an easy way to make sure to avoid many of the problematic flavor enhancers and food dyes causing your food intolerance. If you think a food you typically serve on Thanksgiving might contain one of these hidden ingredients, take a few minutes away from the flurry of preparations for the big meal to read the label.

Knowing your food triggers can help you manage your diet and put a halt to embarrassing and uncomfortable symptoms. Visit your local Any Lab Test Now to get your diagnosis before the holiday season arrives.

Know Your Status – A Sickle Cell Solution

If you have a student-athlete headed to their first year of college or university, then you probably have a lot on your mind. You’ll be figuring out what supplies they’ll need as they start this exciting new chapter in their lives. You and your student both could struggle with mixed emotions of excitement and anxiety about the unknowns of the upcoming semester. With so much going on, it might be very easy to forget about NCAA rules concerning student-athletes and the required Sickle Cell Screening.

What is Sickle Cell?

So let’s start with a reminder about what sickle cell is. Sometimes referred to as sickle cell anemia, sickle cell disease is actually a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Healthy red blood cells are round and move around your body carrying vital oxygen. It’s not the same for sickle cell disease sufferers. Their red blood cells have a “C” shape to them, sort of like a farm tool called a “sickle,” hence the name. But these cells don’t just look different; they act differently as well. The sickle cells are hard and often clump together in small blood vessels causing problems with blood flow. Sickle cells also die sooner than healthy red blood cells, which means your body can be in a constant shortage of red blood cells. That can lead to a wide variety of issues ranging from something as mild as fatigue to something as serious as stroke. And it turns out, student-athletes are at particular risk.

Competitive Athletes at Risk

Newborn babies should be screened for sickle cell status shortly after birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Testing shows if you have sickle cell disease (SCD) or if you have sickle cell trait (SCT). A diagnosis of sickle cell disease is important because an early diagnosis means doctors can watch for and help manage symptoms which can range from mild to severe.

On the other hand, you can have sickle cell trait and never show any physical symptoms at all. The danger comes when a person with SCT puts their body under extreme conditions — like those often encountered by student-athletes. That’s why the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) took action:

“While sickle cell trait is not a barrier to playing competitive sports, athletes with sickle cell trait have experienced significant physical distress, including collapse and death during intense exercise. Heat, dehydration, inadequate acclimatization, altitude, and asthma can increase the risk for medical complications in athletes with sickle cell trait.”

Because sickle cell trait can be present with zero symptoms, it’s a silent threat that can have deadly consequences. It’s why a Sickle Cell Screening is required for all student-athletes and why Any Lab Test Now is happy to provide this valuable service.

If you’re a student-athlete, and if your sickle cell screening wasn’t performed at birth or if the results are unknown, the Sickle Cell Screening is available for your convenience and your safety at Any Lab Test Now. Knowing your status can allow coaches and doctors to work with athletes to prevent complications and take the necessary precautions.

Do You Know Your Status?

According to the CDC, the occurrence of sickle cell trait varies greatly from state to state, and among different races and ethnicities. While primarily an issue affecting African-Americans, there are cases in the Hispanic, Caucasian, and Asian communities. Still, the CDC says that many are unaware of their personal sickle cell status, and that puts people at risk. Any Lab Test Now knows that being informed means being in control of your health.

Getting Personal About Prostate Cancer

The decision about whether or not to undergo prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening is one every man should make for himself. Those are the latest findings by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. There is no question that testing can save lives. Screening can help find many prostate cancers early; when the disease is in a more treatable stage than if no screening were done at all.

If you’ve made the decision to be screened, Any Lab Test Now can help. We’re here to help you take control of your health, and taking this proactive step may be a smart move for you. With the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screening test, you’ll know where you stand, and you’ll be able to make the most educated decision on how to move forward.

Some Facts About Prostate Cancer 

The American Cancer Society reports: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, not counting skin cancer. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among men.” Those are some pretty sobering facts! There are some risk factors that will increase your chances of developing prostate cancer… some of them are beyond your control. The American Cancer Society points to:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Family History

And possibly:

  • Diet
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Chemical exposures
  • Prostatitis
  • STDs
  • Vasectomy

These can all potentially play a role in the development of prostate cancer or be factors with a possible effect on prostate cancer risk. Take obesity for example: Being obese does not seem to increase the overall odds of developing prostate cancer BUT, some studies have found that obese men have a higher risk of getting a more aggressive form of the disease. The reasons are still not clear.

Testing as “Active Surveillance”

The concept known as “Active Surveillance“is emerging as a viable option for men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, but decide not to undergo immediate radical treatment. That would include surgical options or radiation therapy. It’s a plan that’s not too different from the “baseline option” that Any Lab Test Now has been suggesting for years. The idea behind our “baseline” theory is that all men, no matter what their age, should take a PSA Test so they can establish a baseline. Through the years you continue to take Prostate Specific Antigen screening tests and therefore be aware of changes in levels. Similarly, if you are considering Active Surveillance, as described by the Prostate Cancer Foundation, you’ll continue with PSA testing once or twice a year to watch for signs of disease progression as opposed to surgery or radiation therapy.

Helping Put You in Control of Your Health

The key is education. If you’re a man, you can read about prostate cancer, know your risk factors, and then decide for yourself about screening. If you think establishing a baseline is a good idea for you, you can count on Any Lab Test Now to be affordable, quick, and convenient. If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer and have decided to pursue Active Surveillance, Any Lab Test Now can be your partner in managing your disease and a reliable source to monitor progression.

How Student Athletes Can Benefit From Lab Testing

Many parents and students are starting to make preparations for heading back to school, but for elite athletes and those looking to make serious performance improvements, the preparations have never really stopped. Summer leagues, camps, and training have probably been a regular part of the routine over the summer, but what about lab testing?

Lab testing and athletics? You might wonder how those two go together. Any Lab Test Now can become your student-athletes’ partner in training. We offer a variety of tests that can help improve performance and recovery so your athlete can reap all of the benefits of their hard work.

When it comes to tracking your fitness and health progress, there are a lot of avenues you can take. If you’re not sure which way to go, just ask one of our knowledgeable health professionals. Let them know what you want to achieve and they will guide you to the proper tests. Any Lab Tests Now has a few suggestions that can help you get started down the right path toward your fitness goals.

Basic Nutritional Panel

Your diet is a great place to start your journey to better performance. The Basic Nutritional Panel provides you with information about vital and energizing vitamins and nutrients like ferritin levels. Ferritin is an intracellular protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion. If the levels are low, that could mean your iron levels are low. Remember, iron plays an important role in carrying oxygen to all parts of your body. To athletes, oxygen is fuel! Endurance would likely be affected.

Along with ferritin levels, the Basic Nutritional Panel offered by Any Lab Test Now will check vitamins B12, D, and C along with zinc and homocysteine levels. You’ll also receive a Complete Blood Count, which will give you a decent snapshot of your overall health, as well as a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP). The CMP alone makes this test worth it for the elite athlete. It includes testing for multiple electrolytes and metabolites, which can frequently be abnormal in athletes. It can let you know if you are taking in enough (or too much!) water. Low albumin levels can be a sign of inflammation in athletes. All in all, the Basic Nutritional Panel is a good place to start when considering lab testing for athletes.

Performance Hormones

Hormones play a critical role in athletic performance and are vital to the recovery process. If your hormone levels are out of whack, then your performance could suffer. Some key hormones to watch:

Food Sensitivity and Intolerance Testing

Let’s face it, if you’ve got a food allergy, chances are you already know about it. But intolerances are more subtle — and can have a huge impact on athletic performance. An undiagnosed food intolerance can cause inflammation, which can slow down your recovery time. It can impact your breathing and diet, causing you to gain weight. It can even keep you from fully absorbing nutrients if you experience digestive problems. Any Lab Test Now offers a variety of food intolerance tests to choose from.

That’s just a sampling of what Any Lab Test Now can offer athletes. Also consider, that in some cases, you may benefit more with repeat testing, particularly nutritional testing. Visit your local Any Lab Test Now location to get started on reaching your peak performance before the school year starts.

Thinking About January, And We Haven’t Even Made It Through The Holidays!

I’ve already caught myself already thinking ahead to the new year, about my resolutions.  It might be because I stuffed myself at Thanksgiving and every party I go to has tons of amazing food and of course, cocktails.  I jump on the scale and just watch the digital numbers bump up ever so slightly each time (knowing even a little jump every day will eventually add up…).

So, now I reason with myself that if I at least plan for January, I’ll be ready to take off any weight gained early in the game and take better care of me.  Right… is that the guilt factor speaking to me?

So, here’s my plan to make it through the holidays:

  • I went and got my B-12 Shot to increase my energy.  I’m now ready to juggle everything I need to do to get ready for the holidays AND still have the energy to exercise (that is, as long as I make the time).
  • I need to get my cholesterol and glucose checked so I have a baseline after the new year.  With all the butter, sugar and other good ‘ole down-home food my family slaps on the table, I can only imagine what my results might look like after the first of the year.  Knowing where I am now may help keep me in check…
  • I will jump on my elliptical trainer at least 5 times per week.  I will, I will, I will!
  • Salad will become my best friend when I am not attending a holiday function.

Then, after January 1, I am going to make a new year’s resolution that works, and knowing my health on the inside as well as seeing how I look on the outside is what’s going to drive me to continue past January 31, the normal “end” to those resolutions we set for ourselves.

What is your holiday plan to Take Control of Your Health™?