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Chloride Blood Test

What is a Chloride Blood Test?

A chloride blood test measures the amount of chloride in your blood. Chloride is a type of electrolyte. Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that help control the amount of fluids and the balance of acids and bases in your body. Chloride is often measured along with other electrolytes to diagnose or monitor conditions such as kidney disease, heart failure, liver disease, and high blood pressure.

Other names: CI, Serum chloride

What is it used for?

A chloride test is not normally given as an individual test. You usually get a chloride test as part of a routine blood screening or to help diagnose a condition related to an imbalance of acids or fluids in your body.

Why do I need a chloride blood test?

Your health care provider may have ordered a chloride blood test as part of an electrolyte panel, which is a routine blood test. An electrolyte panel is a test that measures chloride and other electrolytes, such as potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate. You may also need a chloride blood test if you have symptoms of an acid or fluid imbalance, including:

What happens during a chloride blood test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don't need any special preparations for a chloride blood test or an electrolyte panel. If your health care provider has ordered other blood tests, you may need to fast (not eat or drink) for several hours before the test. Your health care provider will let you know if there are any special instructions to follow.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

There are many reasons why your chloride levels may not be in the normal range. High levels of chloride may indicate:

  • Dehydration
  • Kidney disease
  • Acidosis, a condition in which you have too much acid in your blood. It can cause nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
  • Alkalosis, a condition in which you have too much base in your blood. It can cause irritability, muscle twitching, and tingling in the fingers and toes.

Low levels of chloride may indicate:

If your chloride levels are not the normal range, it doesn't necessarily mean you have a medical problem needing treatment. Many factors can affect your chloride levels. If you have taken in too much fluid or have lost fluid because of vomiting or diarrhea, it can affect your chloride levels. Also, certain medicines such as antacids can cause abnormal results. To learn what your results mean, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a chloride blood test?

Urine also contains some chloride. Your health care provider may recommend a urine chloride test in addition to the blood test to get more information about your chloride levels.

References

  1. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth's Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Chloride, Serum; p. 153–4.
  2. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001-2017. Chloride: The Test; [updated 2016 Jan 26; cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/chloride/tab/test
  3. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2017. Acidosis; [cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/acid-base-balance/acidosis
  4. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2017. Addison Disease (Addison's Disease; Primary or Chronic Adrenocortical Insufficiency); [cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/adrenal-gland-disorders/addison-disease
  5. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co Inc.; c2017. Alkalosis; [cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/acid-base-balance/acidosis
  6. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2017. Overview of Acid-Base Balance; [cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/acid-base-balance/overview-of-acid-base-balance
  7. Merck Manual Professional Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2017. Acid-Base Disorders; [cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/acid-base-regulation-and-disorders/acid-base-disorders
  8. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Types of Blood Tests; [updated 2012 Jan 6; cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bdt/types
  9. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; What Are the Risks of Blood Tests?; [updated 2012 Jan 6; cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 6 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bdt/risks
  10. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; What Do Blood Tests Show?; [updated 2012 Jan 6; cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 7 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bdt/show
  11. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; What To Expect with Blood Tests; [updated 2012 Jan 6; cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 5 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bdt/with
  12. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Chloride; [cited 2017 Mar 12]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=167&ContentID=chloride

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