Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

A healthy result should fall into the range 18 - 29 mEq/L, or 18.00 - 29.00 mmol/L.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) belongs to class of molecules called electrolytes, which are minerals in your blood and body fluid that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes have a variety of specialized functions including regulating the amount of water in the body, keeping the acidity of our blood balanced, and aiding muscles to function correctly—among others things. CO2 exists mostly commonly in our bodies in the form of a substance called bicarbonate (HCO3-). Therefore, the test to measure carbon dioxide in the body is really a measurement of bicarbonate levels. Typically, a bicarbonate test is ordered as a part of an electrolyte panel (along with sodium, potassium, and chloride), a basic metabolic panel (BMP), or a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP). A healthcare professional will run these tests when the pH level of the blood is too acidic (acidosis) or alkaline (alkalosis) or when an acute condition presents with the following symptoms:

            -Prolonged vomiting and/or diarrhea

            -Weakness, fatigue

            -Difficulty breathing

A pH imbalance in the blood can be caused primarily by a respiratory issue (the lungs are not effectively balancing the intake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide) or a metabolic issue (increased or decreased bicarbonate in the blood).

Additionally, the balance of bicarbonate and other electrolytes in the body is a good indicator of how well the heart and kidneys are functioning. 

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