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Everything is Normal

…said your doctor to you. You went to your doctor because you haven’t been feeling yourself in a while. Something is not quite right. You feel a bit “off’ but can’t quite put your finger on it. You may be gaining weight despite working out and eating right, your energy levels have been dropping, sex drive is decreasing or you simply are losing your usual ability to focus. Yes, you have the usual and maybe some unusual stresses at home, the job, financially, relationships perhaps. Your sleep patterns are changing and you do not know why. The doctor did an exam, got some basic labs and tells you “Everything is normal.” But you don’t feel normal. What is “normal” when it comes to labs? Why is it results will vary in “normal ranges” from lab to lab?

When a patient tells me their doctor said everything was “normal” it bothers me. Usually that interpretation is based on what physicians were taught when looking for frank pathology and disease, not for optimal balance in an individual. Labs report ranges based on a general bell curve analysis of the general public. This can vary from lab to lab. The “normal” reported by labs are simply ranges for possible disease processes, not for an individual’s optimal functional range. This is important to understand because not all doctors are trained to interpret labs from a functional or optimal view. Traditionally doctors are trained to provide care when disease is present. This excludes the basic tenants of preventing disease. Nutrition is usually ignored. This takes specialized training and experience. Unfortunately, if your lab results are found within the stated lab range you are considered healthy. And that can be far from how you may be feeling.

It is also important to understand that it is not about looking at each lab result individually. Rather, it is about how to interpret labs as they relate to each other and how you are feeling. This mistake is never more glaring than in the evaluation of hormones. For example, men are being marketed to focus on testosterone. Fancy ads with a sexy couple on a beach or a manly man with a wrench under the hood of a car focusing on testosterone as the main hormone to evaluate and treat mislead the general public. When I was in Florida giving a lecture last month, I saw billboards simply stating “Low Testosterone?” with a toll free number below. All focusing and misleading men to think that testosterone is the only lab to evaluate and interpret. Women are targeted in the same way. A physician trained to interpret other hormones and their optimal or functional levels as they relate to each other along with how nutrition can directly affect lab results is important and powerful in your overall long term health.

Many basic labs are left out in an initial general physical workup. Understanding what labs to obtain in evaluating your full physiologic function is not a basic skill seen in many primary care clinics. Again, simply because most clinics are looking for disease results in your labs, not optimal results as they relate to your long term good health. This is an issue in our current health care system. Finding a provider who understands optimal ranges in your labs and how nutrition fits into managing your health can be challenging. Seek that provider.

Because everything may not be “Normal.”
Dr. G

To schedule a Complex Consult with Ben Gonzalez, MD call (301)622-2722. During your 60-minute session, you will receive a complete physical where Dr. Gonzalez will review your recent labs, complete a medical history evaluation, request additional lab work, write prescriptions as needed and assess for diet changes and hormone therapy. Included in the consultation are a B12 shot and Antioxidant scan.

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