Regularly monitoring blood phenylalanine (phe) levels is a critical element to the treatment of PKU. The frequency of collecting samples will vary depending on age, clinic preference and the PKU patient’s current health status. For example, maternal PKU patients may collect samples as many as twice a week. It is important to discuss with your clinic how often you should send in blood tests, but should you ever need a quick-reference guide for conducting an at-home blood test, here are a few tips.
- In order to reduce the amount of time it takes to perform a blood level, organize supplies in clear containers. This also lets you know when supplies are running low.
- Fast for at least two hours, no more than six, before taking a blood level.
- Chose a different puncture site each time in order to avoid scar tissue or oversensitivity to the puncture-area.
- Fill at least three circles within the filter paper. I will usually fill all five, just to provide my clinic with several specimen options.
Blood Test Prep:
- Use a heating pad or hand warmer for about 10 minutes to increase blood flow. Running your hand under hot water may also do the trick.
- Fill out filter paper with your personal information.
- Gather supplies needed for single-time use.
10 Easy Steps:
- Clean fingertip (or heel if performing the test on an infant) with alcohol wipe. If you do not have an alcohol wipe, wash hands with soap and warm water.
- Open Band-Aid from its packaging for easy access after test is complete.
- Position the lancet on the side of your finger.
- Press the lancet firmly on your skin at the puncture site.
- Turn the hand over and let a drop of blood form on your fingertip.
- Fill filter paper circles with blood by allowing the drop to freely fall onto the paper (without touching) and while being careful not to overlap drops.
- Wrap Band-Aid over the puncture-area.
- Discard used lancet in a biohazard sharps container. If you do not have a biohazard sharps container, you can also collect used lancets in a Ziploc plastic bag and bring those to your clinic for safe disposal.
- Allow the filter paper to dry overnight, although if you are under a deadline, 2-3 hours will suffice.
- Seal the filter paper in an envelope and mail to your clinic (don’t forget the stamp).
For other references and tips for performing at-home blood tests, the National PKU Alliance’s PKU Binder has an entire section focused on Monitoring Blood Phenylalanine Levels and BioMarin has 12-page, electronic brochure describing How to Take Your Blood Phe Levels at Home.