Special Report

50 Dangerous Conditions Testing Your Blood Can Help Detect

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Blood tests evaluate how well organs are working and help identify abnormalities that almost always prompt further, more specific tests.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Dr. Keith Hoots, the director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Division of Blood Diseases and Resources, noted that the first question medical professionals ask after a blood test is: “Is the test correct?” Blood tests are a broad screen that can indicate the possibility of certain conditions, the existence of which must then be confirmed through additional tests, Hoot explained. “They are part of a “process of moving from the more general to the more specific.”

To identify 50 dangerous conditions a blood test can help detect, 24/7 Wall St. conducted a review of various medical publications such as the Mayo Clinic, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration press announcements.

We chose conditions for which blood tests can either confirm the presence of the disorder or help identify warning signs that prompt further confirming tests. Information on symptoms, confirming tests, and treatment came from the Mayo Clinic and other sources.

For more on public health, see the states where people live the longest, and the healthiest cities in America.

Click here to see 50 dangerous conditions a blood test can help detect.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

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1. Allergies
> Common symptoms: Sneezing, watery eyes, hives, rash
> Confirmation tests: Allergy testing
> Treatment: Medication, immunotherapy


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2. Rheumatoid arthritis
> Common symptoms: Joint stiffness, fever, fatigue
> Confirmation tests: Test for antibodies, imaging tests, additional blood tests
> Treatment: Biologic agents, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, steroids

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3. HIV
> Common symptoms: Rash, swollen lymph glands, fever, weight loss
> Confirmation tests: ELISA test, saliva tests, viral load tests
> Treatment: Protease inhibitors (PIs), non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors

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4. Pulmonary embolism
> Common symptoms: Shortness of breath, chest pain, cough
> Confirmation tests: Chest X-ray, ultrasound, spiral CT scan


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5. Diabetes
> Common symptoms: Slow-healing sores, extreme hunger, thirst
> Confirmation tests: Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, blood sugar test
> Treatment: Insulin, monitoring blood sugar

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6. Lyme disease
> Common symptoms: Rash
> Confirmation tests: Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test
> Treatment: Antibiotics


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7. Zika
> Common symptoms: Mild fever, rash, joint pain
> Confirmation tests: Blood or urine test
> Treatment: No antiviral treatment. No vaccine

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8. Vitamin K deficiency
> Common symptoms: Excessive bleeding, dark stool
> Confirmation tests: Coagulation test, or PT test
> Treatment: Phytonadione supplement

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9. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
> Common symptoms: Rapid heartbeat, sweating, increased appetite, sleeping problems
> Confirmation tests: Physical exam, radioiodine uptake test, thyroid scan or ultrasound
> Treatment: Radioactive iodine, beta blockers, surgery


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10. Lymphoma
> Common symptoms: Lymph swelling, fatigue, fever
> Confirmation tests: Removing lymph for testing, physical exam
> Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplant

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11. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
> Common symptoms: Pain in leg, discolored skin, feeling of warmth
> Confirmation tests: Ultrasounds, further blood tests, venography
> Treatment: Blood thinners, clot busters, filters, compression stockings


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12. Hepatitis A
> Common symptoms: Fatigue, sudden nausea, loss of appetite, dark urine
> Confirmation tests: Blood sample
> Treatment: No specific treatment; rest, nausea management

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13. Lung cancer
> Common symptoms: Coughing up blood, chest pain, bone pain, headache
> Confirmation tests: CT scan, tissue sample, imaging tests
> Treatment: Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy

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14. Gonorrhea
> Common symptoms: Painful urination, pain or swelling, discharge
> Confirmation tests: Urine test, swab of affected area
> Treatment: Antibiotics


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15. Dehydration
> Common symptoms: Thirst, sunken eyes, listlessness
> Confirmation tests: Additional blood tests, urinalysis
> Treatment: Electrolytes, intravenous fluids

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16. Paget’s disease
> Common symptoms: Flaky skin on nipple, redness, lumps
> Confirmation tests: Physical exam, breast biopsy, sentinel lymph biopsy
> Treatment: Simple mastectomy, lumpectomy


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17. Osteoporosis
> Common symptoms: Back pain, weight loss
> Confirmation tests: Bone density measurement, X-rays
> Treatment: Bisphosphonates, hormone-related therapy

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18. Concussion
> Common symptoms: Confusion, nausea, slurred speech
> Confirmation tests: Neurological examination, review of medical history
> Treatment: Limit physical activity and reading

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19. Colorectal cancer
> Common symptoms: Rectal bleeding, weight loss, weakness
> Confirmation tests: Colonoscopy, further blood tests
> Treatment: Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy


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20. Influenza
> Common symptoms: Fever, headache, sore throat
> Confirmation tests: Physical exam, polymerase chain reaction testing
> Treatment: Liquids, fluids, pain medication

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21. Coronary heart disease
> Common symptoms: Chest pain, shortness of breath, heart attack
> Confirmation tests: Electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, stress test
> Treatment: Beta blockers, bypass surgery, stent placement


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22. Liver problems
> Common symptoms: Jaundice, abdominal pain, itchy skin, dark urine, loss of appetite
> Confirmation tests: Additional blood tests, imaging tests, tissue analysis
> Treatment: Lifestyle modification, liver transplant

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23. Gilbert’s syndrome
> Common symptoms: Yellow skin
> Confirmation tests: Complete blood count, liver function tests
> Treatment: None, disease usually resolves itself

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24. Hepatitis C
> Common symptoms: Bleeding and bruising, swelling, confusion
> Confirmation tests: Genotype test, viral load test, additional blood tests
> Treatment: Antiviral medications, liver transplantation


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25. Ovarian cancer
> Common symptoms: Pelvic area discomfort, weight loss, bloating
> Confirmation tests: Pelvic exam, imaging tests, additional blood tests, surgery
> Treatment: Targeted therapy drugs, chemotherapy, surgery

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26. Hormone imbalances
> Common symptoms: Weight gain, fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold or heat, muscle aches
> Confirmation tests: Pelvic exam, ultrasound
> Treatment: Hormone therapy


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27. Chronic kidney disease
> Common symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, sleep problems
> Confirmation tests: Urine tests, imaging tests, kidney biopsy
> Treatment: Blood pressure, anemia, cholesterol, swelling, medications

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28. Breast cancer
> Common symptoms: Breast lump, redness of breast skin, change of shape of breast
> Confirmation tests: Mammogram, breast ultrasound, biopsy
> Treatment: Lumpectomy, mastectomy, radiation, chemotherapy

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29. Cirrhosis
> Common symptoms: Fatigue, itchy skin, jaundice
> Confirmation tests: Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), biopsy
> Treatment: Treatment for alcohol dependency, liver transplant surgery


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30. Pregnancy
> Common symptoms: Nausea, late period, increased urination
> Confirmation tests: Blood test, MRI
> Treatment: Consult physician

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31. Ebola
> Common symptoms: Fever and chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
> Confirmation tests: Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test
> Treatment: Fluid and blood replacement, hospital care


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32. Syphilis
> Common symptoms: Genital rash, hair loss, muscle aches
> Confirmation tests: Further blood tests, spinal tap
> Treatment: Antibiotics (usually penicillin)

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33. Lupus
> Common symptoms: Facial rash, fever, fatigue, joint pain
> Confirmation tests: Further blood and urine tests, chest x-ray, echocardiogram
> Treatment: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, immunosuppressants

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34. Excessive alcohol use
> Common symptoms: Memory loss, poor coordination, isolation, alcohol withdrawal
> Confirmation tests: Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin blood test, DSM-5 diagnosis
> Treatment: Behavioral treatments, medication, mutual-support groups


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35. Menopause
> Common symptoms: Hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods
> Confirmation tests: Review of symptoms, menstrual cycle tracking
> Treatment: OTC vaginal lubricants, improved diet

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36. Herpes
> Common symptoms: Sores and ulcers on genitals
> Confirmation tests: Viral culture, polymerase chain reaction, additional blood tests
> Treatment: No cure, medication for symptoms


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37. Mononucleosis
> Common symptoms: Swollen tonsils, fatigue, fever
> Confirmation tests: Antibody tests, white blood cell count
> Treatment: No treatment available

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38. Leukemia
> Common symptoms: Bone pain, weight loss, nose bleed recurrent
> Confirmation tests: Coagulation panel blood test, bone marrow aspiration
> Treatment: Stem cell transplant, radiation, biological therapy

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39. Early onset Alzheimer’s
> Common symptoms: Memory loss, depression, loss of inhibitions
> Confirmation tests: Physical tests, neurological tests, further blood tests, brain imaging
> Treatment: Cholinesterase inhibitors, Memantine


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40. Stomach cancer
> Common symptoms: Fatigue, bloated feeling, heartburn, stomach pain
> Confirmation tests: Upper endoscopy, imaging tests
> Treatment: Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drugs

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41. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
> Common symptoms: Weight gain, sensitivity to cold, thinning hair, depression, enlarged thyroid
> Confirmation tests: Thyroid panel blood test
> Treatment: Hormone therapy


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42. Hemophilia
> Common symptoms: Excessive bleeding, deep bruising, bloody stool
> Confirmation tests: Coagulation panel blood test
> Treatment: Replacement therapy, desmopressin hormone, clot-preserving medication, physical therapy

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43. Hepatitis B
> Common symptoms: Abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain, jaundice
> Confirmation tests: Further blood tests, transient elastography, liver biopsy
> Treatment: Rest, antiviral medication, interferon injection, liver transplant

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44. Liver cancer
> Common symptoms: Weight loss, abdominal pain, jaundice, white stools
> Confirmation tests: Imaging tests, liver biopsy
> Treatment: Surgery, liver transplant, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, chemotherapy


Source: Pornpak Khunatorn / Getty Images

45. Chlamydia
> Common symptoms: Painful urination, abdominal pain, vaginal or penile discharge
> Confirmation tests: Urine test, swab test
> Treatment: Antibiotics

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46. Pancreatitis
> Common symptoms: Abdominal pain, fever, rapid pulse
> Confirmation tests: Stool test, CT scan, ultrasound, MRI
> Treatment: Fasting, pain medication, IV fluids


Source: Pornpak Khunatorn / Getty Images

47. Cholecystitis (gallbladder Inflammation)
> Common symptoms: Severe abdominal pain, nausea, fever
> Confirmation tests: Imaging tests, hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid scan
> Treatment: Fasting, IV fluids, antibiotics, pain medication, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

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48. Anemia
> Common symptoms: Weakness, pale skin, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, cold hands and feet
> Confirmation tests: Complete blood count test
> Treatment: Nutritional supplements, blood transfusion

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49. Multiple myeloma
> Common symptoms: Bone pain, nausea, constipation, excessive thirst, weakness in legs
> Confirmation tests: Blood test, urine test, bone marrow aspiration, imaging tests
> Treatment: Drug treatment, chemotherapy, corticosteroids, bone marrow transplant, radiation therapy


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50. Tuberculosis
> Common symptoms: Excessive coughing, coughing up blood, chest pain, weight loss
> Confirmation tests: Skin test, blood test, imaging tests, sputum tests
> Treatment: Medication

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Health technology company Theranos raised hundreds of millions of dollars from 2003 to 2015 on the promise that its Edison blood-testing machines could do over 240 blood tests with one or two drops of blood.

While the Theranos promise turned out to be too good to be true and founder CEO Elizabeth Holmes has since been charged with massive fraud, blood testing can help detect and diagnose dozens of conditions, including some very serious ones. Hematology– the study of blood — has improved dramatically in recent years. In the past two years alone, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved blood tests that can detect signs of concussion, menopause, and the Ebola virus.

One of the most commonly ordered blood tests is a complete blood count, which measures different blood cell levels and can help detect warning signs for conditions like anemia, infections, blood cancers, and immune system disorders. Another common test is the coagulation panel, which measures blood clots and can help diagnose leukemia, hemophilia, and thrombosis.

The basic metabolic panel is a group of tests that measure different chemicals in the blood and can give doctors information about the blood sugar levels, bones, and heart, kidneys, and liver functions. Another common test is the lipoprotein panel, which tests such substances in the blood as cholesterol and can help show risk for coronary heart disease. There are many more tests that are used when doctors need to investigate further.

To identify 50 dangerous conditions a blood test can help detect, 24/7 Wall St. conducted a review of various medical publications such as the nonprofit Mayo Clinic, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration press announcements.

We chose conditions for which blood tests can either confirm the presence of the disorder or help identify warning signs that prompt further confirming tests. Information on symptoms, confirming tests, and treatment came from the Mayo Clinic and other sources.

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