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Chloride Test

What is the chloride test?

The chloride test measures the amount of chloride in your blood. Chloride is a chemical your body needs for metabolism (the process of turning the food you eat into energy). It also helps keep your body's acid-base balance. The amount of chloride in your blood is carefully controlled by your kidneys.

Why is this test done?

Your blood chloride level may be measured to check:

  • your metabolism
  • how well your body's organs are working (particularly your kidneys)
  • your acid-base balance.

This test may also be done to check certain medical treatments. Some medicines can cause the body's chloride level to go up or down.

How do I prepare for this test?

  • You don't need to fast or limit your activity before the test.
  • You may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that you are taking. Don't stop any of your regular medicines without first consulting with your healthcare provider.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions.

How is the test done?

A small amount of blood is taken from your arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Having this test will take just a few minutes.

How will I get the test result?

Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your test.

What does the test result mean?

The normal blood chloride range for adults in most labs is 95 to 105 milliequivalents (mEq) per liter. The normal range may vary slightly from lab to lab. Normal ranges are usually shown next to your results in the lab report.

Your blood level of chloride may be higher than normal if:

  • You don't have enough fluid in your body (dehydration).
  • You eat too much salt (sodium chloride).
  • Your body is making too much parathyroid hormone.
  • You have kidney disease.
  • You are taking medicines that increase your chloride level such as:
    • acetazolamide
    • ammonium chloride
    • hormones such as estrogen or testosterone
    • cortisone
    • methyldopa
    • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.

Your blood level of chloride may be lower than normal if:

  • You have been vomiting or have had diarrhea for a long time.
  • You are taking medicines that may lower your chloride level such as:
    • aldosterone
    • bicarbonates
    • some diuretics
    • triamterene.

What if my test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about your result and ask questions.

If your test results are not normal, ask your healthcare provider:

  • if you need additional tests
  • what you can do to work toward a normal value
  • when you need to be tested again.
Written by Tom Richards, MD, for RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-06-26
Last reviewed: 2011-05-03
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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