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Chloride is an electrolyte, important in maintaining the normal acid-base balance of the body and helps to keep normal levels of water in the body, along with sodium. The normal blood concentration of chloride usually remains fairly constant, with a slight drop after meals, any excess is removed in urine.

What might a low result mean?

Low levels of chloride can occur due to prolonged periods of vomiting, diarrhoea or sweating, where the body gets rid of too much chloride, and also sodium.

Additionally, low levels of chloride occur when the body goes into an acidic state. This can happen in metabolic alkalosis, when the body fails to excrete enough alkaline substances, and in respiratory acidosis, which happens when the lungs struggle to remove sufficient carbon dioxide from the body.

What might a high result mean?

Elevated levels of chloride can have a range of different causes, however the main reason is dehydration. Additionally, factors causing the body to go into an alkaline state can also cause chloride levels to increase. Factors causing this include metabolic acidosis, when the body struggles to get rid of sufficient acid, and respiratory alkalosis, when hyperventilation releases too much carbon dioxide into the air.