Electrolytes are salts and minerals which conduct electrical impulses in the body. Electrolytes help to move nutrients in and waste products out of cells, as well as maintain the acid-base balance and keeping water levels normal.
Chloride is an electrolyte which is important for maintaining the acid-base balance in the human body. Chloride also works with sodium to keep water levels normal in the body. Chloride levels usually change with sodium levels, but if there’s a change in chloride without sodium this indicates too much acid or base in the body.
A chloride blood test gives an estimation of the body’s acid-base balance. A major increase or decrease in chloride can signify a serious fluid or electrolyte imbalance which will likely require some treatment to return it to normal.
Dehydration is often a cause of increased levels of chloride, while low blood levels can be a result of prolonged vomiting. Prolonged periods of exercise without adequate hydration can cause an increase in chloride levels, particularly as the body loses both fluid and electrolytes through sweat and urination.
You can test you chloride level within Forth’s Ultimate health check, which includes analysis of 50 key biomarkers integral to health and wellbeing.
Chloride alongside other electrolytes helps to maintain the acid-base balance in the body and works with sodium to keep water levels within normal parameters.
Most of the chloride in the body is found outside cells and controls water entering and leaving cells. Chloride and sodium work together to regulate blood pressure and blood volume. Increases in chloride can cause a rise in blood pressure and fluid retention which can negatively affect our health.
Increased levels of chloride in the blood may indicate dehydration. Dehydration can have a variety of symptoms such as confusion, excessive thirst and headaches which can make you feel unwell. The cause of dehydration may also affect your health and wellbeing negatively. For example, prolonged vomiting increases chloride levels as well as depletes fluid levels in the body.
If you are worried about your chloride level or just want to check where you fall on the range, you can test your level with Forth’s leading blood test service.
When chloride levels increase above normal is known as hyperchloremia. Potential causes of increased chloride levels are:
Low levels of chloride are known as hypochloremia and potential causes are:
Low chloride levels can occur at the same time as other health conditions such as heart failure and lung disease.
Common symptoms of metabolic alkalosis are:
Common symptoms of dehydration are:
Although symptoms of metabolic acidosis are not specific, some symptoms are:
Although exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, intense exercise without adequate hydration can lead to fluid and electrolyte loss. When we sweat we lose fluid as well as important ions including chloride. Therefore, you should drink water before, during and after exercise to keep your water levels topped up. If you are participating in the prolonged or intense exercise you may need to consider a sports drink which contains electrolytes or rehydration therapy. If you have experienced vomiting and/or diarrhoea you should use rehydration therapy to normalise your electrolyte levels.
Eating a balanced, healthy diet should help to keep your chloride levels within a normal range. Most chloride is found in table salt or sodium chloride. However, you should be careful not to exceed 6g of salt per day as it can have adverse effects. For example, a diet high in salt raises blood pressure and increases the risk of coronary heart disease. You should always check the labels on food to see how much salt it contains, there are many foods where salt is ‘hidden’. Foods like bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals all have salt added to them in the manufacturing process. Cooking meals from scratch will help you to monitor how much salt you are eating daily.