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Low chloride level in the blood

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Low chloride level in the blood

What is a low chloride level in the blood called?

  • Hypochloremia

What is the normal chloride level in the blood?

If you need to know which are the chloride reference ranges or you require more information about the role of chloride in the blood you can visit: Normal chloride level in the blood

What does a low total chloride level in the blood mean?

Hypochloremia is an electrolyte imbalance where the chloride level in the blood is lower than normal.

The main cause for a low value of chloride in the blood is the loss of chloride in the gut (vomiting or diarrhea) or the loss of chloride in the kidney (diuretic treatment with thiazides).

Another possible cause is an inadequate intake of chloride on diet, for example, due to a low-salt diet.

Hypochloremia is usually related to hyponatremia (low sodium values in the blood) and metabolic alkalosis.

In the International System of Units (SI), chloride in the blood is measured in mmol/L. The numeric values in this case are the same in mEq/L or in mmol/L.

Hypochloremia or a low chloride blood level means:

  • Mild hypochloremia (90 - 97 mEq/L in adults):

    Chloride level in the blood is a bit low, but it is not a matter for concern. It may be due to vomiting, diarrhea or interaction with medication.

    It is necessary to study sodium level in the blood for a better diagnosis.

    If there is no other alteration, it is probable that in the next blood test the chloride value in the blood returns to the normal range.

  • Moderate hypochloremia (80 - 90 mEq/L in adults):

    These values are quite low and it requires a visit your doctor to look for the possible causes.

    You may suffer symptoms like irritability, hyperactivity or tetany (involuntary contraction of muscles).

  • Marked hypochloremia (< 80 mEq/L in adults):

    Chloride level in the blood is very low and requires immediate medical attention.

    You can suffer from arrhythmia, bradypnea (abnormally slow breathing), coma or respiratory arrest.

Which factors can reduce the total chloride level in the blood?

Some particular health situation or drugs may reduce your chloride level in the blood:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bicarbonate intake
  • Burns
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Drugs
    • Aldosterone
    • Corticosteroids
    • Diuretics
      • Chlorothiazide
    • Laxatives

Which diseases can reduce your total chloride level in the blood?

The following diseases can explain a chloride level in the blood lower than normal:

  • Metabolic alkalosis
  • Respiratory acidosis
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Addison's disease
  • Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH)
  • Kidney failure
  • Hyperaldosteronism
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Hypochlorhydria

What can I do to increase the total chloride level in the blood?

If your chloride level in the blood is a bit low, you can consider the following tips:

  • Increase your salt (sodium chloride) intake.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

In case of severe hypochloremia, intravenous saline solution is available under medical prescription.

Where can I find more information about chloride level in the blood?

You can visit our pages about:

Which values are considered a low chloride level in the blood?

The following values are considered to be above the normal range:

IMPORTANT: These levels are expressed in mEq/L (mmol/L). They are an example of a healthy man of about 45 years old with no known disease and not taking any medication. The ranges can be different depending on the laboratory or on your personal circumstances.

Chloride
Mild hypochloremia
96 mEq/L95 mEq/L94 mEq/L93 mEq/L92 mEq/L91 mEq/L90 mEq/L 
Moderate hypochloremia
89 mEq/L88 mEq/L87 mEq/L86 mEq/L85 mEq/L84 mEq/L83 mEq/L82 mEq/L
81 mEq/L80 mEq/L      
Marked hypochloremia
79 mEq/L78 mEq/L77 mEq/L76 mEq/L75 mEq/L74 mEq/L73 mEq/L72 mEq/L
71 mEq/L70 mEq/L69 mEq/L68 mEq/L67 mEq/L66 mEq/L65 mEq/L64 mEq/L
63 mEq/L62 mEq/L61 mEq/L60 mEq/L59 mEq/L58 mEq/L57 mEq/L56 mEq/L
55 mEq/L54 mEq/L53 mEq/L52 mEq/L51 mEq/L50 mEq/L  
Last update: 28/10/2020

Bibliography

  • Concise Book of Medical Laboratory Technology: Methods and Interpretations. 2nd Edition. 2015. Ramnik Sood. ISBN: 978-93-5152-333-8. Pag. 500.
  • Tietz. Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry. Carl A. Burtis, Edward R. Ashwood, David E. Bruns, Barbara G. Sawyer. WB Saunders Company, 2008. Pag 662. ISBN: 978-0-7216-3865-2
  • Laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures with nursing diagnoses (8th ed), Jane Vincent Corbett, Angela Denise Banks, ISBN: 978-0-13-237332-6, Pag 121.
  • Hyperchloremia – Why and how, Glenn T. Nagami Disponible en: http://scielo.isciii.es

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