How Reading Results a Different Way Can Prevent Disease
If you’ve ever gone to the doctor with a list of symptoms just to be told your blood testing showed everything was “normal,” then you’re familiar with a special kind of frustration. While there is relief that there seems to be nothing “seriously” wrong, you still have symptoms and no explanations for why you don’t feel well.
This happens all too frequently. In fact, I see patients weekly that are mentally, physically and financially exhausted from their attempts to find answers to the health issues with which they are struggling.
But there is a reason why this happens.
Many people don’t know that there are two main types of ranges in the field of blood chemistry analysis: a pathological range and a functional range.
The pathological range, standard in conventional medicine, is used to diagnose disease. The functional range is used to assess your risk for disease before it develops. So while a pathological blood test range might show you are not yet sick, you may be well on your way to suffering from a chronic disease or condition.
The main difference between the two types of testing is the degree allowed within their “normal” ranges. For example, the functional normal for glucose may be 85-100 mg/dl, while the range for pathological normal may be 65 -110 mg/dl. Levels above the pathological range may indicate diabetes, while levels above the functional range, but before they reach the extremes of the pathological range, may indicate insulin resistance and future risk for developing diabetes.
Another regularly utilized functional value is associated with TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone. I often find TSH levels outside of the functional range causing pathological hypothyroid symptoms.
By addressing what is considered a “low normal” or a “high normal” on the pathological scale, functional medicine can show us dramatic changes in a person’s overall wellness as their bodies turn away from potential disease and toward optimal functioning.
The two ranges in blood chemistry perfectly illustrate the difference in conventional medicine and functional medicine as a whole. Conventional medical training is concerned with the diagnosis of disease once it is present, as well as the treatment of that disease. Functional medical training encourages pinpointing the root cause of disease, and intervening before a patient reaches the disease stage. Of course, functional medicine can diagnose disease, but using a wider range of what’s normal in a blood chemistry analysis allows us to use preventative measures to work with patients before they fall within the pathological range — before disease is present.
It is a shame how many health care providers don’t embrace the concept of a functional range, because when care can be provided before disease is present, quality of life goes up and healthcare expenditures — and a patient’s frustrations — go down.
Focusing on the functional range allows us to be more proactive in our approach to health and wellness, and prevent disease before it ever develops. By addressing lifestyle, nutrition and other factors we can bring hormone, mineral and vitamin levels back within functional normal ranges restoring wellness and giving patients the answers they seek.
Talk to us about blood chemistry analysis using the functional range to address your symptoms and assess your disease risk.