Chloride is a molecule found in the body and belongs to the electrolyte group, indicating that it possesses an electrical charge. Electrolytes work to maintain the pH of our body fluids, help our cells to keep the amount of fluid inside and outside the cell balanced, and aid in the maintenance of proper blood volume / blood pressure. Tests for chloride, sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate are typically done together as part of an electrolyte panel, a basic metabolic panel, or a comprehensive metabolic panel. A healthcare professional may order an electrolyte panel when symptoms such as prolonged vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and difficulty breathing are present. An electrolyte panel can also be used to determine the cause of a pH level in the blood that is too acidic or too alkaline. Additionally, electrolyte panels may be done routinely to monitor medications or diseases that are known to cause electrolyte imbalance. Chloride can be measured through blood or urine.
A decreased level of blood chloride occurs with any disorder that causes low blood sodium. Congestive heart failure, prolonged vomiting, Addison disease, emphysema or other chronic lung diseases causing respiratory acidosis, and loss of acid from the body (causing metabolic alkalosis) all result in low levels of chloride in the blood.
A decreased level of urine chloride can be seen with Cushing syndrome, Conn syndrome, congestive heart failure, malabsorption syndrome, and diarrhea.
An increased level of blood chloride is typically caused by dehydration but may also occur with problems that cause high blood sodium (such as Cushing syndrome or kidney disease). A high amount of chloride also occurs when too much base is lost from the body (causing metabolic acidosis) or when a person hyperventilates (causing respiratory alkalosis).
An increased level or urine chloride can indicate dehydration, starvation, Addison disease, or increased salt intake.
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