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Chloride (Urine)

Does this test have other names?

Urine chloride

What is this test?

This test measures the amount of chloride in your urine.

Your body tries to keep the acid-base – or pH – level of your tissues in balance, but certain conditions can cause an imbalance. If your body tissues become too alkaline, you may develop metabolic alkalosis. Alkaline is the opposite of acidic.

You can develop metabolic alkalosis from taking diuretics, or medications that increase urination. It can also happen after you have been vomiting or if you've had the contents of your stomach suctioned.

It can also be caused by a rare medical condition, such as Bartter syndrome or Gitelman syndrome, or by having low levels of potassium.

If you have metabolic alkalosis, measuring the amount of chloride in your urine gives your doctor more information about your condition.

Why do I need this test?

You may have this test if your doctor suspects that you have metabolic alkalosis. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty thinking

  • Confusion

  • Seizures

  • Numbness or pins-and-needles sensation

  • Muscle cramps

  • Muscle stiffness

  • Slow breathing

Bartter syndrome and Gitelman syndrome, which can both cause metabolic alkalosis, affect your kidneys. Bartter syndrome is usually diagnosed in childhood, while Gitelman syndrome is usually diagnosed later in life.

Signs and symptoms of Bartter syndrome include:

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Unusual thirst

  • Excessive urination

  • Low potassium levels

Symptoms of Gitelman syndrome include:

  • Muscle cramps in your arms and legs

  • Fatigue, sometimes severe

  • Excessive urination and urinating at night

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may also order other tests that measure substances in your urine or blood. These include:

  • Sodium in your urine

  • Potassium in your urine

  • pH level of your urine

  • Electrolytes in your blood

  • Arterial blood gases

  • Other substances in your blood, including albumin, blood urea nitrogen, calcium, creatinine, glucose, and phosphate

What do my test results mean?

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.

Results are given in milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Normal results range from 25 to 40 mEq/L.

If your levels are below 25 mEq/L, you may have a lack of chloride in your diet. It may also mean that you have been vomiting or had medical suctioning of your stomach contents, or that you have used diuretics in the past.

If your levels are higher than 40 mEq/L, you may have:

  • Bartter syndrome or Gitelman syndrome

  • Severely low potassium levels

Higher levels of chloride may also be caused by recent use of diuretic medications.

How is this test done?

This test requires a urine sample. Different types of urine tests use different collection methods. Your doctor will tell you how to collect the sample for this test.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks.

What might affect my test results?

Taking diuretics or vomiting can affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

Tell your doctor if you have vomited recently. In addition, 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.