Bill Bradford: Jason’s kissing infectionPublished 10:25am Thursday, September 3, 2009
His throat was very sore; he was running a fever; lymph nodes were swollen; and he had lost any inclination do anything except lie around and rest.
When he went to see the family doctor, blood count and blood antibody tests for mononucleosis were ordered.
The blood count showed an increase in lymphocytes (one of several types of white blood cells).
When the stained blood smear was examined under the microscope the lymphocytes looked like they were splashed onto the slide instead of being typical round cells.
The blood antibody test showed a marked increase in Jason’s antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus, which is the viral cause of infectious mononucleosis.
A person does not have an increased antibody concentration for a specific infective organism unless he has been immunized or has contracted an infection by that organism.
The blood tests ordered by Jason’s doctor established the suspected diagnosis. Results of a throat swab culture, available the next day, ruled out a throat infection by pathogenic Streptococci (beta Strep).
A complete blood count (CBC) may also aid in establishing diagnoses of anemias and leukemias.
There are several specific disease types within each of those two general categories.
Anemia may result from blood loss, inherited genes as in sickle cell anemia, a dietary lack as in iron or vitamin B12 deficiency or from poisoning with certain chemicals.
Leukemia may result from abnormalities of any one of several different types of white blood cells.
Our neighbor, Walter, had a heart attack (myocardial infarction) when he was 53 years of age.
Triple bypass surgery was performed on his heart to replace arterial blood flow that had become limited by plaque blocking.
Blood chemistry tests showed Walter’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels were much too high. He has followed his physician’s advice and changed the kinds of food he eats.
Walter also takes a prescribed statin medication which helps control the concentration of lipids in his blood. Periodically his physician has Walter get blood taken for repeat lipid testing and for liver enzymes which would become elevated if his medication was becoming inappropriate. Walter is now into his second decade since that heart attack. He clears brush from his meadows and cuts firewood to feed the house heater.
Sam ate and ate and ate until he was much too overweight and developed Type II diabetes. He has been taught to check his own blood sugar (glucose) level several times a day and use that as a guide to insulin dosage.
When he has his periodic check-ups with the doctor, a glycohemoglobin blood test is ordered. Sam may make his blood level of glucose look good for the day of his doctor visit, but the glycohemoglobin test shows what his average blood glucose level has been for the previous several weeks. There are literally hundreds of different blood tests for proteins, hormones, antibodies and chemical electrolytes.
Mayo Clinic physicians have estimated that 60-70 percent of all medical decisions in patient care are partially or wholly dependent on testing done in the clinical laboratories.
By next time, I think I will be able to re-visit the CRP test.
Bill Bradford retired to the rigors of a small farm in Pokagon Township.
He has served as director of clinical laboratories in physician group practices and hospitals.
For a decade he was an educator in clinical laboratory sciences at Andrews University.