Categories: Health & Fitness

Blood ionogram: knowing how to interpret its results

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The blood ionogram is one of the most requested laboratory tests. It includes the dosage of sodium, potassium, calcium, chlorine and bicarbonates present in the blood. What does a high rate mean? A low rate? What are the standards?

Definition: what is a blood ionogram?

An ionogram indicates the concentration of different ions in a liquid. In the case of the blood ionogram, the main ionic constituents of the blood are measured: sodium (Na), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), chlorine (Cl) and bicarbonates (CO3) in the plasma. A blood ionogram is used to monitor water-electrolyte balance which is ensured by the kidneys, the skin, the respiration and the digestive system.

What are the standards of a blood ionogram?

In accordance with the indications given on your medical analysis sheet, the results (on an empty stomach) must be between:

  • 135 and 145 mEq per liter for sodiumin men, women and children.
  • 3.5 and 5 mmol per liter for potassium, in men, women and children.
  • 90 to 100 mg per liter for calciumin men, women and children.
  • 95 and 105 mmol per liter for chlorinein men, women and children.
  • 0.75 and 1 mEq per liter for magnesiumin men, women and children.
  • 22 and 30 mmol per liter for bicarbonatesin men, women and children.

Please note: the standards differ according to the techniques used by the laboratories. Be aware that the results alone do not constitute a diagnosis. It is therefore important to consult a doctor in order to plan with him additional examinations or possible treatment.

“An essential examination to know the functioning of the body”

Why do a blood ionogram?

The measurement of the blood ionogram is most often done as part of a check-up or in the face of any unexplained pathology. Very common biological examination, it is used to detect a water-electrolyte imbalance which can have consequences on the metabolism and to monitor fluid intake by infusion. “The blood ionogram is an essential examination to know the good general functioning of our body. It can reveal many pathologies which could go unnoticed, in particular any dysfunction of the kidney. It must be part of any general screening reportsays Dr. Marc Druet, general practitioner.

What does a high blood electrolyte level mean?

Hypernatremia: the increase in the sodium level (hypernatraemia) may be the consequence of a reduction in the quantity of water (dehydration): digestive losses, reduction in water intake, significant water loss, sweating or a sodium overload.

Hyperkalemia : An increase in potassium levels (hyperkalaemia) may be encountered in people taking potassium supplements, or taking medications such as antihypertensives, anti-inflammatories, in the event of renal failure, etc.

Hypercalcemia: Too high a calcium level in the blood can be due to hyperparathyroidism, menopause, vitamin D intoxication, prolonged immobilization and certain cancers.

Hyperchloremia: The chlorine level may increase (hyperchloremia) during excessive dehydration by sweating, digestive losses, sodium overload, hypoparathyroidism. or medullary thyroid cancer.

► The level of bicarbonates can increase in people with the following pathologies, such as in chronic respiratory failure or metabolic alkalosis by repeated vomiting or diarrhoea.

What does a low blood electrolyte mean?

Hyponatremia. The sodium level may experience a decrease, which is called Hyponatremia, “A distinction must be made between depletion hyponatremia: during the consequences of a deficit in sodium intake or excessive loss (kidney loss by diuretics or digestive loss by diarrhoea); And dilution hyponatremia: consequence of an increase in the quantity of water (pathological hyperhydration such as potomania) or during heart, kidney or liver failure, creating edema”, says the general practitioner.

► Hypokalaemia. A decrease in potassium levels (hypokalaemia) may be seen in people suffering from vomiting or diarrhea or taking diuretic medicines.

Hypocalcemia. A low level of calcium (hypocalcemia) in the blood can be due to a lack of absorption from the intestine, a vitamin D deficiency, chronic renal failure, hypoparathyroidism, or medullary cancer of the thyroid.

Hypochloremia. The chlorine level may experience a decrease (hypochloremia) in the following cases during the consequences of a lack of sodium intake: digestive losses (diarrhea) and kidneys, an increase in the quantity of water or excessive perspiration.

► The level of bicarbonates may decrease during metabolic acidosis, ketoacidosis occurring in diabetics, states of shock (lactic acidosis),renal insufficiency, severe hepatic insufficiency or chronic hyperventilation.

What are the treatments for an abnormal blood ionogram?

“The treatments are many and varied, they will depend on the cause”, explains Dr. Marc Druet. For example, in case of hypercalcemia, the patient will be given drugs that increase the urinary excretion of calcium.

Thanks to Dr Marc Druet, general practitioner.

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