Getting labs drawn is nerve-racking. I have found many folks with PKD absolutely dread them, experience some anxiety leading up to them, and often feel they are “just waiting for bad news”.
With labs, the goal is to get accurate results. Labs are a snapshot of how your kidney is working, they also show potential areas to focus on where PKD health can be up-leveled or supported.
What you do, or do not do prior to getting labs can impact their results. Having a plan, or routine, will help you feel more confident and in control, these 5 tips will help.
5 Ways to Help Labs Go Smoother
1. Communicate with Your MD
Knowing what labs your MD ordered, and why, is a good thing to ask about prior to getting labs done. It helps you know what to expect and what they are looking at. If you are unsure of what a particular lab has been ordered, ask!
Also, ask your MD if any of the vitamins or supplements you are taking should be held prior to your lab draw. If the answer is “yes”, make sure to ask how many days, or the timeframe, before labs that you should stop taking them.
Some supplements can alter your lab results, either by interacting with the reagents of the lab test or by causing a falsely high or low result. For example, Biotin (Vitamin B7), can interfere with TSH (thyroid stimulate hormone) and PTH (parathyroid hormone) results giving falsely low outcomes.
Another great question to ask your MD to help ensure labs get drawn correctly is if you need to fast for the labs. Several labs, like lipid cholesterol labs, should be drawn when you are fasting. How long you need to fast can vary, most often it is between 8-12 hours before.
2. Stick to Normal Eating & Hydration
You may have heard or even been told to, “hydrate well before your labs” because it helps with the blood draw. Don’t change what you normally do though, you want to drink fluid as usual. If you bump up your hydration right before labs it can dilute some test results. You won’t get an accurate look at your kidney function labs and others that are affected by fluid, like sodium.
Stick to what you normally do, your normal patterns of eating and drinking! Don’t dramatically change how you are eating for the few days before or the week leading up to labs. I 100% understand wanting to “see good numbers” but this doesn’t provide an accurate snapshot of your kidney function.
If you make it a habit of changing what and how you eat before labs, that is a good sign that perhaps your day-to-day nutrition patterns could use help. Consider this a good sign to start working with a Dietitian for your PKD health. If you are ready to get started with Proactive PKD Nutrition, check out your options for working with The PKD Dietitian.
3. Schedule Your Appointment
Some labs are done at the MD’s office. Other times you will go to diagnostic centers, lab draw centers, or even clinics within a hospital. You can schedule an appointment at many of the lab draw centers and clinics. This way you get to pick when works for you, and having a scheduled appointment helps reduce wait time.
If you are getting fasting labs, you likely will want an earlier appointment, especially if fasting in the morning is not a normal practice for you. If your lab centers don’t take appointments, ask when it’s least busy so you don’t have to wait for long.
4. Avoid High-Intensity Workouts
Exercise breaks down muscle, this is a good thing and helps our muscles stay, or become, stronger. You want to skip lifting weights and doing intense workouts for the day before, and the day of labs.
When muscles break down there is increased creatinine waste produced. Yes, that same creatinine is measured in your kidney function lab panel. A workout shortly before labs could lead to a “falsely” elevated creatinine lab result and thus a lower kidney function, the GFR estimate.
I encourage clients to go for a walk, do some gentle stretching or yoga leading up to lab draws. But to 100% skip heavy exercise. No need to skew the lab results in a way that makes it look like your kidney function took a dip when the increased creatinine is only temporary.
5. Pause & Check-in
It’s normal to feel nervous or a bit anxious when getting your labs drawn. It’s also normal to want a good outcome, to see improvement perhaps, and to be invested in that. It’s important to pause and acknowledge all those feelings. Trying to these fears and feelings out loud, it will feel like such a release.
For example, if you are feeling anxious, pause and acknowledge it. Say, “I am feeling anxious about my upcoming labs”. This can be to someone you trust, or even just to yourself. Take it one step further and permit yourself to have these feelings with a statement like “And that's OK, I am human”.
Another thing I like to have clients do, that really helps, is to take a few breaths. Stick with me here, it is the simplest thing you can do that is super helpful. My favorite “guide” to pausing and taking a breath is something I want you to try.
First, close your eyes.
Second, think “smell the flowers” as you take a deep breath in through your nose.
Third, as you exhale think or picture “blow out the candles”.
It’s hard to stay in a negative space when you are smelling flowers and blowing out candles. Try this several times in a row, go as slowly as you can in each moment. Smell the flowers. Blow out the candles.
Clients have told me they have even started picturing flowers and cakes while they were pausing to breathe with this simple mantra. If guided breathing isn’t your thing, find something that is. That helps you pause, regroup, and takes you out of the anxiety-fear spiral.
5 Tips to Help PKD Labs Go Smoother:
Communicate with your MD.
Stick to your normal eating and hydration habits.
Schedule your appointment.
Avoid high-intensity workouts.
Pause and Check-in.
Comment below, which tip helped you with a smoother lab draw!