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Is there a method/device for a person to analyze the basic characteristics of her blood without going to the doctor?

Background motivation: A patient has reoccurring symptoms that appear at random times. So far they were never present when the blood was taken and analyzed in the hospital and the blood tests showed nothing wrong. The idea is to have the patient take and analyze her blood samples while the symptoms are showing and present those to the doctor to aid diagnoses.

  • Welcome to Health.SE! What do you mean with "basic characteristics"? – YviDe Jan 2 '16 at 11:47
  • @YviDe Hi, thank you for the welcome. By "basic" i mean the things that are covered on a general prevention exam as opposed to confirmation of existence of a specific antibody. Unfortunately I have no background in medicine and can only guess what that would imply (hemoglobin, sugar levels, white blood cells count?) – TheMeaningfulEngineer Jan 2 '16 at 12:02
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Probably not.

Few things that people can check by just looking at their own blood under the microscope, if they take some time to learn the skill. Counting red and white blood cells, for example. But without a lot of practice, those numbers could be very wrong. Also, you probably won't be able to differentiate between the types of white blood cells.

There are also some things that can be done using tests that you can buy at a pharmacy (and maybe even a supermarket), for example blood sugar. These are usually very easy to use so people can use them at home. When in doubt, ask a pharmacist or doctor.

Some bacteria can be stained and identified with equipment that can be purchased from specialised businesses. Again, this takes practice. It's easy to get something wrong.

And unless we are talking about diabetes or leukemia, both of which would also show up when being tested at a doctor's office, these tests are not helpful in your scenario. Almost all other medical tests, like testing antibodies, hormones, vitamins, CRP, need specialized lab equipment and people with training.

There would be the possibility of taking blood and having it analyzed later. But while blood can be stored in a cold environment and analyzed later (most doctor's offices I know only deliver to a lab once a day, storing the blood in a fridge before that), most people aren't trained at taking whole vials of blood, and even people who are don't usually take their own blood.

The patient's best bet in this scenario is to have some doctor take the blood while the symptoms are occurring and send the sample to the lab. Doesn't necessarily have to be the treating specialist - one of mine is 70 kilometers away, so I have my blood tests done by my GP I can walk to.

As a bit of an aside, I have a hard time coming up with anything that would show up in the blood sample while showing symptoms, but fail to show up in one taken a few hours later after symptoms subside. Then again, I am not a doctor.

  • It's not uncommon to write for blood to be drawn (and tested somewhere) when a patient is symptomatic, so you're on target with that advice (it need not be done at the doctor's office, but at any outpatient blood-drawing facility.) There are many things that can cause symptoms but not show up in blood work an hour later (or even when symptomatic) e.g. atrial fibrillation can come and go, be symptomatic and completely unsuspected by the patient, but not show up in a blood test. – anongoodnurse Jan 3 '16 at 5:40
  • You mentioned blood sugar, which regularly fluctuates on a scale of hours or less and can cause symptoms with very rapid onset and offset (in vulnerable individuals). Also, if you're curious about the subject, check out hypokalemic periodic paralysis. – octern Feb 17 at 0:41

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