An osmolality blood test is used to determine how much of several different substances are contained within it. In this test, a person’s blood is considered to be a serum, so the substances can be measured to determine normal levels because blood with high or low levels of these substances will behave differently.
Think about it like this: if you put more salt into water, then it behaves differently than water with only a small amount of salt in it. The water with more salt will have a higher osmolality. This is what the osmolality blood test is going to measure for sodium, glucose, and nitrogen.
Normally the human body can balance out these substances naturally. When there are specific health conditions causing bothersome symptoms, a medical provider may order this test to determine if this balancing mechanism is malfunctioning for some reason.
When To Ask About the Osmolality Blood Test
If there are changes to urinary habits, especially if there is excessive urination compared to normal, then speaking to a doctor about the osmolality blood test makes sense. If the body is losing water, then it will become dehydrated if it is expelling more than it is receiving. This will also affect the balancing mechanisms of the three substances this test can measure.
Sometimes people have a condition called “diabetes insipidus.” This isn’t like Type 2 diabetes because the issue isn’t with insulin resistance. The body creates a feeling of excessive thirst because there is a problem with the communication between the brain and the kidneys to help maintain proper fluid levels.
If someone has been exposed to ethanol or methanol, then the osmolality blood test can help to determine if treatment must begin because of the exposure to these poisons.
What Do My Osmolality Blood Test Results Mean?
Most people are going to have normal test results on any given day if they were to be administered the osmolality blood test. Although the three substances can vary in their balance in higher or lower levels throughout the day, the results stay within what is considered a normal range. Normal results are typically listed in a range of 270-300, although every lab has its own established range it considers to be a normal result.
If the results of the blood test are lower than 270, then this typically indicates that there is an excessive amount of fluid within the body for some reason. The most common reason for this result is that a person has pushed fluids for some reason over the last 72 hours. It can also be caused low sodium levels, inappropriate ADH production, and some lung cancers can also produce this result.
If the results of the blood test are higher than 300, then this can be an indication that a person is chronically dehydrated. This test result is becoming more common because of excessive caffeine consumption. High blood sugar levels and high sodium levels will also create this result. Certain head injuries have also been shown to increase osmolality levels, as can having toxins within the blood.
What To Do With Your Test Results
Only your medical provider can provide you with a specific diagnosis that is related to your osmolality blood test results. Treating the condition which has caused the abnormal results will usually help to restore the balance which the body needs. For many people, this simply means making an adjustment to their lifestyle habits so that fluid intake levels reach appropriate levels.
If there is a hormonal issue that is causing the abnormal osmolality results, then fixing this issue will typically restore the body’s balance. This may mean taking an ADH supplement to stop water retention or reduce fluid expulsion. If there is a high sodium issue, then reducing the amount of salt in the foods being consumed may help to restore a balance.
A medical provider may test for diabetes mellitus if high glucose levels are the cause of an abnormal osmolality blood test.
If a blood test is not appropriate for some reason, osmolality tests can also be ordered for urine or stool samples for some patients.
Use this guide to discuss your health with your medical provider at your next appointment. Only your medical provider can diagnose your condition. Work with them to develop a treatment plan if necessary and you’ll be able to take charge of your health and potentially reduce bothersome symptoms at the same time.