Why You Still Have Symptoms When Your Labs Are “Normal”

Are you tired of hearing all your lab tests look normal while you continue to struggle with symptoms? You’re not alone. In order to understand this issue, we need to explore the glaring flaws with mainstream lab ranges.

All “normal” means is that you fall within the average, acceptable range for a patient population. What most patients don’t understand is that these lab ranges are not standardized, so you’ll see different ranges reported from Labcorp than you will from Quest or Kaiser. What does this mean for you as the patient? It means that you could fall within the normal range if you got your blood draw done at Labcorp, but outside the normal range if you went to Quest. This makes very little sense when we see patients being dismissed and told “all labs are normal” when the ranges vary.

So why do these ranges differ? Labs gather data from everyone who came in during a specific time period and create a bell curve to determine an average. If you fall within the majority of the curve, it’s determined that you’re within the “normal” range despite the fact that these ranges are not universal. So you could be labeled normal by one lab’s standard and abnormal by another’s for the exact same test. Plus, who gets their blood drawn done more often: sick people or healthy people? Essentially, we’re creating ranges based on a sick population and using it as a model for health. Makes perfect sense, right?

This is why many patients and practitioners have moved away from mainstream medicine into the functional medicine model. Rather than a reactive approach of waiting for a disease or condition to present before treating it, functional medicine is a proactive approach designed to prevent disease and optimize health. The ranges we look at are significantly more narrow and are based on where studies and anecdotal evidence show people feel and function best. We also look for patterns in functional medicine. So rather than the “watch and wait” approach employed by mainstream medicine where nothing is addressed until you’re outside the lab range, we look for trends to catch dysfunction before it turns into disease.

It’s always good to keep in mind that labs and blood work are only a piece of the puzzle. While they provide useful clues, we also want to look at symptoms, health history, environment, nutrition/diet, lifestyle, and past trauma. All of these areas play a part in the manifestation of symptoms and disease, so you need to evaluate them together to form a complete picture. So do your own research, educate yourself, and if making foundational changes doesn’t fix the issue, hire a practitioner who can help guide you! We’ll be here when you’re ready to schedule your free Discovery Call.

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