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Does this test have other names?

Cl, serum chloride test

What is this test?

This test will find out how much chloride is in your blood and help your doctor figure out if you may have certain kidney problems.

Chloride is one of the ingredients in table salt. But it's also an important mineral in your body. It helps move fluids in and out of your blood cells. When you have an imbalance of chloride, you may start to feel ill. You can lose chloride if you've been vomiting or have diarrhea. Chloride can also build up if you have a certain type of diabetes.

Why do I need this test?

If you lose too much chloride, you may have nausea, feel weak, or become seriously dehydrated.

This test may help your doctor find out whether your kidneys are working properly or if you have another problem with your health. 

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may order a test to measure the other electrolytes in your blood, to check for an acid-base imbalance. The electrolytes test will also measure other minerals in your blood, including sodium and potassium.

Your doctor may also test your urine for chloride levels and your blood for glucose, or blood sugar, levels. A basic urinalysis, a simple test that may help detect problems with your kidneys or urinary tract, may also be done. Two tests to see how well your kidneys are working may also be done. These two tests are for creatinine level and blood urea nitrogen, or BUN, level. 

What do my test results mean?

Your doctor will go over your test results with you. Normal ranges may vary according to your age. Here are the normal ranges:

  • For adults: 98 to 106 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L)

  • For children: 90 to 110 mEq/L

  • For newborn babies: 96 to 106 mEq/L

  • For premature babies: 95 to 110 mEq/L

How is the test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

You may also have to give a urine sample for testing. 

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore. 

What might affect my test results?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

The amount of fluid you drink or lose may affect your test results. If you've been vomiting or have lost fluids because of diarrhea, you may have lower levels of chloride.

Also, be sure your doctor knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.

Some may cause water loss and/or bloating and affect the chloride you have in your body.

How do I get ready for this test?

If your doctor orders a chloride test of your urine, don't drink alcohol for at least a day before the test.