The Types of Food Sensitivity You Need To Know

It’s estimated that 15 million Americans have a food allergy, according to Food Allergy Research and Education. Furthermore, it’s estimated that food intolerance is prevalent in approximately 5 to 12 percent of the population. With so many people undiagnosed currently, you would be right to worry about whether you have a food sensitivity. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a food allergy?

This is an immune system response in your body that reacts to the introduction of a specific food as if it were a threat. This response can take place within minutes or hours, but it happens relatively quickly after you consume the food. Symptoms can be mild or severe, and they can even be life-threatening if the reaction leads to anaphylaxis. Watch out for these symptoms:

  • Itching in your mouth or swelling
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps and pain
  • Hives or eczema
  • Tightening of the throat and trouble breathing
  • Drop in blood pressure

What is a food intolerance?

This occurs when you have difficulty digesting a certain food. You might be able to eat a little bit of the food without symptoms, or you might not be able to eat it at all. Unlike a food allergy, symptoms take longer to develop. They start a few hours after consumption of the food and can last hours. Since food intolerance deals with digestion, symptoms tend to be relegated to the digestive tract. Watch out for these symptoms:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Irritable bowel
  • Fatigue and general sick feeling

How can you know for sure if you have a food sensitivity?

A lab test can tell you if you have a food allergy or a food intolerance. But the tests for these two conditions are different. Therefore, it’s crucial to get the right lab test.

If you think you have a food allergy …

IgE and IgG tests can accurately inform you whether you have a true allergy to a substance. However, you must have been exposed to the irritant recently in order to detect the antibodies. These tests are commonly performed with exposure to the suspected allergen on the skin, but blood tests can be performed as well.

If you think you have a food intolerance …

An ALCAT test can detect intolerances and sensitivities accurately and regardless of recent exposure to the irritant. Essentially, the blood sample(s) taken are exposed to suspected or common irritants, and the cells’ reactions are studied to determine the body’s reaction. Any Lab Test Now is equipped to handle a wide range of ALCAT tests to help you determine if you have a food sensitivity.

The first step is testing. Then you can talk to your doctor about possible treatment options. Knowledge is key to know the proper treatment, and Any Lab Test Now can help you gain that knowledge!

National Folic Acid Awareness Week

Everything your body does relies on a B vitamin to help make it happen. From your metabolism to your brain function, to the growth and maintenance of your circulatory and nervous systems, none of it would happen if B vitamins weren’t there to help out. This group of vitamins was deemed so vital to Americans that in 1998, the U.S. government passed a law to require that flour products be fortified with them to help ensure that the population could get enough of the nutrients in a normal diet. Among infants, young children and women of childbearing age, folate, or folic acid, is among the most important B vitamin, Vitamin B9, because of its role in cell division and the formation of the nervous system. In honor of National Folic Acid Week, here are some facts you may not have known about folate’s role in the body.

Folate regulates cell division and aids in the construction and maintenance of the circulatory, nervous and digestive systems. It is most important during periods of time where cells are dividing rapidly, such as during growth spurts or development of organ systems. The best sources of folates are meat, beans and legumes, shellfish and whole grains. Fortification of refined grain foods have made things like breakfast cereals and refined flour into great sources of folic acid, and this has led to a dramatic decrease in the amount of folate deficiencies diagnosed in the U.S.

There are many reasons that one can be deficient in folic acid, although luckily, simply not consuming enough is no longer a prominent cause. Instead, illnesses like alcoholism, Crohn’s disease and certain genetic disorders are more likely causes. Many medications will also limit the amount of folate your body can absorb from food. If you have a condition that keeps your body from absorbing folate, it’s crucial that you discuss ways to supplement your intake with your doctor, because a folate deficiency can impact every area of your life.

The first symptoms of a deficiency are exhaustion, mental fogginess and depression. These start out relatively mild and are easy to reverse if they are caught quickly. A more chronic deficiency can cause folate deficiency anemia, which causes the red blood cells to grow abnormally large and unable to carry oxygen. This ends up leading to chronic fatigue, and your hair can even start turning gray. Folate deficiencies are especially dangerous for infants and pregnant women, since a lack of folate can cause the nervous system and spine to develop improperly in utero. It is estimated that between 11 and 19 percent of people in the United States do not consume enough folate in their diets. At Any Lab Test Now, there are a wide variety of lab tests available to help you determine your body’s folate levels, including the Vitamin B12/Folate Test, the Hematocrit lab test  which evaluates your red blood cell levels, our Anemia Panel, or the MTHFR Test, which can reveal a genetic disorder that hinders your folate absorption.

Folate is an integral part of the development and maintenance of bodily systems, and it’s absolutely crucial for growth and circulation. Fortification of refined foods have brought the U.S. into an era of unsurpassed health, but there are still a relatively large amount of people who struggle to get all of the nutrients they need. This National Folic Acid Week is the perfect time to look at your consumption and your folic acid levels, to see if you’re in optimal health. Stop in at an Any Lab Test Now location today to get your levels tested and find out your status!

Eating Your Way Through The Holidays? You Might Want to Check Your Sugar Levels First

‘Tis the season — the season of eating, that is! We all get excited about our favorite foods when the holidays come around. There’s just something special about sharing a meal with family and friends, often with beloved family recipes that have been passed down through the generations. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a special meal with loved ones. The problem comes when these meals are high in unhealthy fats, added sugars and other not-so-good-for-you ingredients. Not to mention the fact that the spirit of the season has come to include a tradition of rampant over-indulgence in our favorite holiday treats. (Seconds, anyone?  Leftovers tomorrow?) This time of year is especially difficult if you have diabetes or prediabetes. You may want to reach for that pumpkin pie, but it is imperative to your health that you keep your sugar levels under control. So how can you enjoy the season and all the delicious foods it has to offer while keeping your health in check? Knowing your sugar levels ahead of time will help you decide what is safe to eat and what you should avoid.

Why should you check your sugar levels?

If you have diabetes or prediabetes, you know how important it is to keep your sugar levels down. Insulin is a hormone that helps get glucose (sugar) to your cells to use as energy. With diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without insulin, the glucose remains in your blood, raising your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. Having high blood sugar can cause a number of serious problems to your health including, damage to your eyes, kidneys and nerves as well as heart disease, stroke and even the need for amputation.

One of the best ways to keep your blood sugar levels in check is to stick to a diabetes-friendly diet that limits foods high in sugar, fat, salt and carbohydrates. Everyone’s body is different, and it’s best to consult with a dietician to find a meal plan that’s right for you. But before you can know what you can and can’t eat, you need to know your blood sugar levels. This will give you an idea of how well you are managing your diabetes or if you are in danger of becoming diabetic.

The best way to know your sugar levels? Get tested!

If you are unsure of your blood sugar levels and you are concerned about your health, it is best to get tested before that big holiday dinner. When you are aware of your health, you can be proactive about preventing any serious problems. Would you rather have that second helping of sweet potato casserole or keep your left foot? It may sound extreme, but this is the situation you could be facing if you don’t keep your sugar levels under control as a diabetic or prediabetic. But if you want to take control of your health, you’re in luck! Any Lab Test Now has several testing options to help you monitor your blood sugar levels quickly and easily, no appointment necessary!

The Hemoglobin A1c Test is a valuable measure of the overall blood glucose levels over a period of time (two?three months). This test can be used to help detect prediabetes and diagnose diabetes. If you’re diabetic, this test can help determine if your disease is under control.

The Glucose (Serum) Test, also known as the Fasting Blood Glucose Test, is the most common test used to diagnose hyperglycemia (higher than normal levels of blood sugar), hypoglycemia (lower than normal levels of blood sugar) and diabetes. Diabetics self conduct this test multiple times a day to monitor their blood glucose, which is conducted as a finger stick and measured with a home glucometer. This test will determine if your blood glucose level is within a healthy range. It will also screen for, diagnose and monitor prediabetes, diabetes, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.

The Diabetes Maintenance Panel is an effective panel for both diabetics and for those who want to see if they have diabetes. This panel includes four tests: The Complete Blood Count (CBC), the Fasting Glucose, the Hemoglobin A1c and the Diabetic Urinalysis. The information gained from the four tests in this panel will give you and your physician the necessary information to help monitor and/or adjust your diabetic medications.
Talk to our experts at Any Lab Test Now to find out which test is right for you! The sooner you know your blood sugar levels, the sooner you can take control of your health this holiday season.

Why Should I Get My Vitamin B Levels Tested?

B12 Vitamin Photo

Everyone knows the feeling. It’s 9 a.m. after a late night, you just sat down at your desk and you can’t imagine how you’re going to get through a whole work day without falling asleep where you’re sitting. It’s fatigue, and it hits all of us at one time or another. But for many, that fatigue won’t go away, and that could indicate a deficiency in vitamin B. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is about a 10 percent chance that the average American is deficient in a given vitamin or nutrient. Conversely, the rates of vitamin toxicity have risen in recent years due to the increased use of multivitamins, and about 60,000 instances of vitamin toxicity are reported to U.S. poison control centers each year. Vitamin toxicity, which is an overabundance of a vitamin in the body, can take a tragic toll if it isn’t caught in time, causing damage to several organ systems, including your nerves, liver, kidneys and brain. If you’re concerned that you’re getting too much or not enough nutrients like vitamin B, a vitamin level test might be just what you need.

 

Vitamin B is an extremely important nutrient for the function of the immune system, metabolism and production of healthy skin, nails and red blood cells. The B vitamin family includes vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B12 and folic acid, and each of these serves a different, but important, purpose in the body. The most commonly deficient of these are vitamin B6 and folic acid, which are important for the metabolism, immune system and fetal development. Deficiencies in these vitamins can cause extreme fatigue, confusion, a weakened immune system and rashes. For most B vitamins, the recommended daily amount is in the range of 5-20 mg.

 

The best way to determine whether you’re getting the right amount of vitamin B is to have your vitamin levels tested. Any Lab Test Now offers vitamin level testing at all of its locations, and with the results of a vitamin test, you can approach your doctor about how to solve any toxicities or deficiencies. With a vitamin as important to basic bodily functions as vitamin B, this test can mean the difference between walking around like a zombie and having enough energy to live life to the fullest. You owe it to yourself to make sure your nutrition is working for you!

Have heartburn? You might want to check for Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori)

Helicobacter pylori. You’ve probably never heard of this crazy-sounding word, but it may be closer to you than you think! Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a potentially dangerous bacteria that thrives in the acidic environment of the stomach. It can cause painful symptoms, including stomach pain, nausea and even heartburn. Yes, that’s right. These common symptoms could actually be caused by an H. pylori infection in your stomach! So if you have frequent heartburn, it’s time to put down the antacids and find out what’s really going on!

What Is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning pain in your chest, right behind the breastbone. Typically, the pain is worse when lying down or bending over. Occasional heartburn is incredibly common and can usually be reduced through lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. However, if you are experiencing frequent heartburn, especially if it interferes with your daily routine, this may be a symptom of something more serious. If you have any of these symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor about other possible causes of your heartburn, including the H. pylori bacteria:

  • Your heartburn occurs more than twice a week
  • Your symptoms continue despite use of over-the-counter heartburn medications
  • You have difficulty swallowing
  • You have frequent nausea or vomiting
  • You have lost weight because of poor appetite or difficulty eating

Could You Have A Helicobacter Pylori Infection?
Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that can infect your stomach and is a common cause of peptic ulcers. In fact, while many try to blame their ulcers on stress or spicy food, 80 percent of stomach ulcers and 90 percent of duodenal ulcers (in the upper end of the small intestines) are caused by H. pylori. The H. pylori bacteria may also cause gastritis and even gastric (stomach) cancer.

Most people with an H. pylori infection never have any signs or symptoms, so they don’t realize they have it. However, if you develop signs of a peptic ulcer, you may have the infection. When symptoms do occur they can include:

  • Pain (an ache or burning) in your abdomen, just under the ribs
  • Abdominal pain that becomes worse when your stomach is empty
  • Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Frequent burping, heartburn and indigestion
  • Bloating

Should I Get Tested For H. Pylori?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should consider getting tested for H. pylori. Any Lab Test Now offers several testing options if you suspect you may have an H. pylori infection or are suffering from chronic heartburn and want to know why:

  • The H. Pylori Stool Test can be used to detect the presence of the H. pylori antigen in stool specimens.
  • There is also a Urea Breath Test (UBT), which can be used to indirectly detect the presence of H. pylori urease by measuring carbon dioxide in the patient’s breath.

Both the Stool Test and Urea Breath Test are recommended by both the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) as non-invasive tests for diagnosis and confirmation of eradication.

If you are suffering from chronic heartburn, you need to talk to your doctor or gastroenterologist before it’s too late. H. pylori is a highly destructive bacterium that can lead to ulcers, gastritis and even stomach cancer. Talk to the experts at Any Lab Test Now to find out how you can get tested for H. pylori and end your heartburn suffering, once and for all!

*Some locations are unable to offer the H. pylori blood test, so please check with your local Any Lab Test Now to learn about your testing options.

Are You Pre-Diabetic? You Need To Read This: November Is Diabetes Awareness Month

With nearly 30 million people in the U.S. suffering from diabetes, it’s a problem that affects about 10 percent of the population. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 86 million people are at risk of developing the disease, and 3 million are already suffering from pre-diabetes.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that affects the body’s ability to produce insulin. Without the proper amount of insulin, the body’s blood sugar levels remain abnormally high, and you don’t get the energy you need. Pre-diabetes is the precursor to Type 2 diabetes. At this stage, blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes.

While diabetes often presents with symptoms like excessive thirst and hunger, extreme fatigue, frequent urination, blurry vision, cuts and bruises that heal slowly, and tingling in the feet and hands, pre-diabetes often doesn’t come with any outward symptoms. The only way to truly diagnose pre-diabetes is to get tested. Tests like Hemoglobin A1c detect pre-diabetes and can also diagnose diabetes or monitor diabetes to make sure it’s managed properly.

Any Lab Test Now can help you take charge of your health by determining whether you are in a pre-diabetic state. A Diabetes Maintenance Panel can be done to monitor any existing diabetic conditions over time, as well as keep an eye on possible complications.

Without proper management, pre-diabetes may turn into Type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Diabetes increases your risk for many other health problems, including nerve damage, blindness, stroke, skin infections, kidney disease, high blood pressure and heart disease.

But it’s not all bad news. With the correct treatment and proper management of diabetes, these complications can be prevented or delayed. While diabetes is often a lifelong disease, it can be managed with medication, diet and exercise for a full, healthy life. So if you or a loved one is showing some of the signs of diabetes, these tests can help you and your doctor determine if the disease has developed or if you are at risk of developing full-blown diabetes.

This November, don’t let Diabetes Awareness Month pass without a fight.  Get tested.  Know your numbers.  Take Control of Your Health®.

Safety in the Ring! Why do Combative Sports Fighters Have to Be Tested Every Year?

When mixed martial arts fighters discuss what they do to prepare for a match, the focus tends to be on the intense training they undergo to make sure they are totally ready to take a pounding and keep on swinging, ultimately to defeat an equally strong and prepared opponent. With such an exciting and dangerous sport, the last thing a fan would think about is whether each fighter is complying with the *shudder* regulations. But it’s because this sport is so exciting and dangerous that regulations need to be a big part of the conversation.

Most state athletic commissions require testing for combative sports fighters to compete. They require drug testing, as well as additional blood tests for diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C. This is to protect the fighters, as well as to keep competition fair. There have been cases in unregulated fighting environments of horrible injuries and unfair competition due to the lack of rule enforcement. These are potentially life-ruining situations. If a fighter competes while infected with a bloodborne illness, the results can truly be tragic. As cumbersome as they may be, regulations are in place to prevent serious injury and death.

For fighter testing, the bloodborne infection aspect may not make sense at first blush. But with sports like MMA, which tend to get bloody, there is a real risk of passing on an infection. However, it’s not just a hazard to an opponent. The body of someone affected by a disease that attacks the immune system is generally weaker and easier to exhaust than that of a healthy person, so having a disease like HIV is a serious handicap in a fight.

Fighters have to be tested every year in order to comply with most state requirements. This is to monitor fighters’ health and keep them from passing on diseases they might not know they have. But if a fighter’s manager or agent has concerns, officials recommend getting the tests as often as necessary. The Fighter Panel at Any Lab Test Now is an easy tool to get all of your state-mandated testing done, with a fast turnaround. So protect yourself and your opponents, and be sure to get tested!

Did You Know Some Employers are Now Testing for Nicotine? Here’s Why

Today’s labor market is competitive, and employers are constantly looking for ways to differentiate potential employees who may otherwise be practically identical. These tactics range from test questions to personality quizzes, but some companies are taking things a step further and asking future hires to take a nicotine test. Hospitals, transportation companies and utility services are leading the way in testing employees’ saliva for tobacco and tobacco-product use, and other substances to help make hiring decisions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It costs the nation billions in health care expenses, and smokers are expected to die about 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. There isn’t an organ in the body that smoking doesn’t damage in some way. Despite this, many choose to continue smoking. Public health experts are beginning to feel that if a person’s health isn’t enough to motivate them to quit, maybe they can be incentivized by money. For workers everywhere, the penalties for not quitting, and the rewards for quitting, could soon be hitting you in the wallet.

Many employers, faced with rising health insurance costs for smokers and the higher rates of chronic diseases in employees who smoke, are offering carrot-stick bargains — either quit smoking and receive a small bonus and free smoking cessation tools, or continue smoking and lose a small percentage of your paycheck each month; or in some cases, lose out on the job offer. Being tobacco-free makes a job applicant a more natural choice for an employer trying to save money on insurance costs and promote a healthy office environment.

Testing for illegal drugs has been a pretty widespread practice for years, but with the relative ease of oral fluid testing, employers can now ask a candidate for a swab and know whether the applicant smokes, dips or chews. The payout for the employer can be twofold: they can offer new potential employees smoking cessation tools to help them get healthy, and they can potentially receive a federal insurance subsidy for testing their employees. It’s been demonstrated time and again that the healthier the workforce, the more productive it is, so having a group of employees who are entirely tobacco-free could increase productivity dramatically, while reducing insurance costs.

The oral swab test, or even a urine specimen test, offered by Any Lab Test Now identifies the amount of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine, in the bloodstream. This substance sticks around for an average of three days — longer in heavy smokers — so going cold turkey for the day isn’t going to cut it. By offering a quick, inexpensive way to test for cotinine, Any Lab Test Now is making it easier for employers to make hiring decisions based on important health criteria. Companies now realize that an investment in the health of each employee is an investment in the business itself, and the advantages of nicotine testing far outweigh the costs.

Signs of Menopause and Tests to Tell if You’re There

As women get older, they are faced with the inevitable — menopause. The average age for a woman to go through menopause is 50, but it can begin as early as her 30s or as late as her 60s. This can be an alarming time for some women, full of changes and new things to get used to, but it doesn’t have to be scary. There are many ways to help cope with the challenges of menopause, as well things to be excited about as you enter a new phase of your life. If you think you may be approaching menopause, here are some signs to look out for:

Probably the most obvious sign of menopause is beginning to have irregular periods once you reach a certain age. Once a woman hits menopause, her periods will stop altogether; so during the time before menopause (perimenopause), periods will become lighter and less frequent — only occurring once every few months. However, it is still possible for a woman to become pregnant during perimenopause. If you are approaching menopausal age and haven’t had your period in several months, you may want to take a pregnancy test, just to be sure.

Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are the most common symptom of a woman entering menopause. Hot flashes are sudden feelings of warmth, typically centered around the face, neck and chest. They may also cause redness of the skin and profuse sweating, leaving you chilled afterward. In some women, hot flashes can occur only a few times a day, and for others, they can happen several times an hour.

Night Sweats and Trouble Sleeping
Women entering menopause may also experience night sweats, which are essentially hot flashes that occur during sleep, causing excessive perspiration. Additionally, some women experience insomnia around the time of menopause due to changing hormone levels as well as other age-related sleep disturbances, such as an increased likelihood of sleep apnea.

Mood Changes
Many women approaching menopause experience mood changes. This can include feelings of moodiness, depressed moods, anxiety, stress or a decreased sense of well-being. This may be the result of changing hormones, significant feelings of stress due to other perimenopausal symptoms or any number of reasons in an aging woman’s life.

Weight Gain, Thinning Hair and Dry Skin
A few other signs that you are entering the menopausal stage of your life are weight gain due to a slowed metabolism, thinning hair and dry skin. However, these things can sometimes be seen in aging people regardless of gender or menopause. If you are experiencing these signs in addition to any of the ones listed above, you may want to get your hormone levels tested to find out for sure if you are approaching menopause.

At Any Lab Test Now, we have several tests that might help you to determine if you are entering menopause. Our Menopause Screening Panel is your best resource for discovering if you are going through menopause. You may also consider getting a Saliva Hormone Test, which can help determine if you have any hormone imbalances that could be affecting your daily life. Taking steps to manage a hormone imbalance can be a huge relief to a woman during menopause, especially if she is experiencing any severe symptoms. Once you have the answers you need, you can finally have some peace of mind about what is happening to your body and start to enjoy this new phase of your life!

How The Affordable Care Act Affects Workplace Wellness

As health care reform continues to be explored, it’s interesting to evaluate how it affects the workplace. Workplace wellness programs have become more of a trend due to the Affordable Care Act. The workplace wellness provisions have sparked research into the effectiveness of programs as well as added concern of shifts in health care costs due to the state of employee health.

“In a 2013 report, “Workplace Wellness Programs Study,” sponsored by HHS and conducted by Rand Corporation, researchers found that uptake remains limited, with fewer than half of employees undergoing clinical screenings or completing a health risk assessment. However, the report found “meaningful improvements” in exercise rates, smoking and weight control, though not in cholesterol levels.”

In addition, many employers expressed the reduction of medical costs due to wellness programs. The goal in creating and implementing these programs are to improve the health of employees and to control healthcare spending. By creating wellness programs and encouraging employees to participate in those programs, these facts can continue to improve.

Are you incorporating a new or improved wellness program in your workplace? There’s no better time than now to re-evaluate your wellness programs!

For more information visit www.anylabtestnow.com/aca.