Serum Chloride

Definition

Chloride is a type of electrolyte. It works with other electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and carbon dioxide (CO2). These substances help keep the proper balance of body fluids and maintain the body's acid-base balance.

This article is about the laboratory test used to measure the amount of chloride in the fluid portion (serum) of the blood.

Alternative Names

Serum chloride test

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

How to Prepare for the Test

Many medicines can interfere with blood test results.

  • Your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test.
  • DO NOT stop or change your medicines without talking to your provider first.

Why the Test is Performed

You may have this test if you have signs that your body's fluid level or acid-base balance is disturbed.

This test is most often ordered with other blood tests, such as a basic or comprehensive metabolic panel.

Normal Results

A typical normal range is 96 to 106 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) or 96 to 106 millimoles per liter (millimol/L).

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The example above shows the common measurement range for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A greater-than-normal level of chloride is called hyperchloremia. It may be due to:

  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (used to treat glaucoma)
  • Diarrhea
  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Respiratory alkalosis (compensated)
  • Renal tubular acidosis

A lower-than-normal level of chloride is called hypochloremia. It may be due to:

  • Addison disease
  • Bartter syndrome
  • Burns
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hyperaldosteronism
  • Metabolic alkalosis
  • Respiratory acidosis (compensated)
  • Syndrome of inappropriate diuretic hormone secretion (SIADH)
  • Vomiting

This test may also be done to help rule out or diagnose:

  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) II
  • Primary hyperparathyroidism

References

Seifter JR. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 118.

Review Date: 5/3/2015

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright ©2017 A.D.A.M., Inc., as modified by University of California San Francisco. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.