Uncover the cause of niggling symptoms with blood tests

Declan Anderson Declan Anderson Pathology Hub Manager
Not getting the answers you need to feel 100%? Here’s how blood tests can help you get to the bottom of three common symptoms.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that bring us down – a mild irritation that never goes away or feeling tired all the time. It’s normal not to feel 100% sometimes, but not 100% of the time – this is a sign that something's wrong.

To get answers, we need to get under your skin. Your blood is the highway on which everything that makes you tick travels. It’s connected to almost every part of the body, from your bones to your brain. If there’s something to find, your blood is often where we’ll see evidence of it.

There are literally thousands of individual tests, but you can find our most popular ones here. All you need to do is attend a quick appointment to have a blood sample taken.

Making a diagnosis

The results of broader tests can quickly point us toward specific conditions that could be related to your symptoms. If necessary, these conditions can be confirmed with further blood tests.

Once we know the cause, we can help to treat the health issue, for example by prescribing medication to balance hormone levels, or advising what foods to eat.

Medically unexplained symptoms

Blood testing technology is very advanced and most conditions can be accurately identified within a few basic tests. However, sometimes blood tests may not reveal an obvious physical cause for the symptoms – these are sometimes referred to as ‘medically unexplained symptoms’.

The root of these may be anxiety or depression, or conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)Mental health support and lifestyle changes can help to ease symptoms in these cases.

Which blood tests could help

Here are a few suggested blood tests, based on three common physical health complaints.

1. Tiredness and lack of energy

Fatigue can be a symptom of many different conditions, so it can be difficult to pinpoint a cause.

An underactive thyroid can make you feel tired, along with other symptoms like aching muscles and dry skin. A Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSM) blood test as well as a Thyroid Profile blood test can indicate whether you have an underactive thyroid.

A lack of certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamins D and B12, as well as iron, can cause fatigue and lethargy. A Vitamin Screen assesses the level of a range of vitamins and the results can help you balance the essential vitamins through your diet if there are any deficiencies.

Our Fatigue Screen covers a range of tests including TSM, Kidney Profile and Liver Function Profile. It also features a Full Blood Count, which can tell us how efficiently your body is transporting oxygen around the body, and may indicate anaemia, which can make you feel tired and weak.

If all other conditions have been ruled out through testing, extreme tiredness alongside muscle and joint pain could indicate CFS.

2. Bloating and abdominal pain

Again, gassiness and abdominal discomfort can have a wide range of causes.

A Coeliac Disease Screen can identify whether these symptoms are caused by a reaction to gluten products such as wheat, barley and rye. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune response where gluten damages the lining of the small intestine, preventing you from absorbing nutrients from food properly. If you have a gluten sensitivity, you have the same reactions to gluten as with coeliac disease, but without any intestinal damage.

Food allergies and intolerances can also cause an upset stomach and bloating. With a Foods Panel blood test, your blood sample is tested against a range of common food allergens, to assess the level of any allergic responses.

Once we’ve ruled out food reactions, as well as disorders that can cause abdominal pain such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it may be that the cause is IBS.

3. Joint pain and muscle aches

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can be chronic and cause joints, muscles, soft tissues and blood vessels to swell, leading to joint pain and muscle aches.

An Autoimmune Screen can give the most basic idea of the levels of inflammation, while a Joint Rheumatology Profile or Rheumatology Screen can focus on cell and tissue factors to help target the source, in order to control the pain and slow down the process of degeneration.

Get quick answers

In this fast-paced world we live in, it can be all too easy to ignore problems that seem small and insignificant. Blood tests results can be turned around in as little as 24 hours to a few days, and can get you on the road to feeling better faster than you thought.

Browse our full list of blood tests and prices.

Last updated Thursday 11 November 2021

First published on Tuesday 4 July 2017