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What Do My Blood Test Results Mean? - Part TWO - Complete Metabolic Panel - CMP

Updated on May 20, 2015

Suggested by awordlover

An assortment of colored vacutainers will be used to draw your blood.
An assortment of colored vacutainers will be used to draw your blood. | Source
Be sure to tell the phlebotomist that you want a COPY of your blood test results sent to you at your home address.
Be sure to tell the phlebotomist that you want a COPY of your blood test results sent to you at your home address. | Source

Continued from Part 1 - What Do My Blood Test Results Mean - researched by awordlover

3 - CMP: Electrolyte Panel

If your electrolytes are out of whack, you can feel anything from nausea to feeling like you are going to die. Keeping electrolytes in balance is essential. The tests included in this panel are chloride (tests for adrenal or kidney problems), carbon dioxide (tests for breathing problems), sodium (checks the sodium level) and potassium (checks the potassium level). Carbon dioxide and chloride are always tested together but sometimes a physician will order just a potassium level or just a sodium level. He/she is checking for an imbalance.

  • Potassium is controlled very carefully by your kidneys. It is important for the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles, particularly the heart. Any value outside the expected range, high or low, requires medical evaluation. This is especially important if you are taking a diuretic (water pill) or heart pill (Digitalis, Lanoxin, etc.).
  • Sodium is also regulated by the kidneys and the adrenal glands. There are numerous causes of high and low sodium levels, but the most common causes of low sodium are diuretic usage, diabetes drugs, and excessive water intake in patients with heart or liver disease.
  • CO2 tells the acid status of your blood. Low Co2 levels can be due to increased acidity from uncontrolled diabetes, kidney disease, OR metabolic disorders. Low CO2 can be due to chronic hyperventilation
  • Normal range for chloride in adults is 96-106 mEq/L. A high reading can be due to eating too much salt, dehydration, Cushing's Disease or kidney disease. A low reading can be due to too much fluid buildup, Addison's Disease, prolonged vomiting/gastric upset, congestive heart failure or lung diseases.
  • Normal range for carbon dioxide in adults is 23-30 mEq/L. A high reading can be due to overuse of antacids, dehydration, severe vomiting, Cushing's Disease, COPD, or blood transfusions. A low reading can be due to overuse of aspirin, alcoholism, severe malnutrition, burns, shock, heart attack, or uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Normal range for sodium in adults is 136-145 mEq/L. A high reading can be due to not drinking enough water, a high salt diet, or high aldosterone levels (High BP, low potassium). A low reading can be due to excessive sweating, excessive diarrhea, cirrhosis, cystic fibrosis (lungs), heart, kidney or thyroid problems.

A personal note from awordlover about potassium - If your potassium is in the abnormal range, it can cause serious problems in the body. For example, the most common is when the heart goes out of rhythm, it is usually due to a potassium imbalance. Muscle cramps (charley horses in calves for example), nausea, low blood pressure, confusion can all be due to a potassium imbalance. I always recommend bananas. It is the perfect food, has all the nutrients a body needs, and it is filling enough to count as a snack in the normal diet. I personally eat about 5 to 7 pounds of bananas per week - about 3 a day. It eliminates a supplement and helps count toward my seven small meals per day. I just wanted to share that with you.

  • Normal range for potassium in adults is 3.5-5.2 mEq/L. A high reading can be due to taking too much of the supplement. A class of medications called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can raise potassium levels. A patient in a nursing home or hospital that is on tube feedings (TPN) will often have potassium levels tested. A low reading can be due to the use of diuretics, alcoholism, cystic fibrosis, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, malnutrition, and certain kidney diseases.

Did You Know...

there are several ways blood can be drawn with little or no pain to you?

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Ask for a butterfly needle. It is less painful to you

If you KNOW you are a hard stick from past experience, SUGGEST the butterfly needle for  drawing your blood. Result = less attempts at sticking you.
If you KNOW you are a hard stick from past experience, SUGGEST the butterfly needle for drawing your blood. Result = less attempts at sticking you. | Source

4 - BUN - Blood Urea Nitrogen

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) is the waste (urea) that is formed in the liver, travels through kidneys, is filtered by the blood, then urinated out from the body. This test is routinely done to check on kidney function, map the progression of kidney disease, and/or to see if a medication is doing its job. Normal range is 6-20 mg/dL.

  • It is important to know that BUN increases with age and that men have a slightly higher BUN than women.
  • If your BUN is higher than normal range, it means your kidneys are not able to excrete the urea out of your body. A person with heart failure, kidney or liver disease, severe dehydration or on a high protein diet will have high BUN levels. The other end of the spectrum, lower BUN levels than normal range often occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy, with over-hydration, low protein diets, malnutrition, and severe liver damage.

Included in this section on the lab form is BUN/Creatinine Ratio. The normal ratio is 10:1 to 20:1. An increased ratio can be due to gastrointestinal bleeding, too much protein in the diet, dehydration or congestive heart failure. A decreased ratio can be due to malnutrition or liver disease.

5 - Creatinine

Creatinine test is usually done along with BUN to assess for kidney problems and function. If creatinine and BUN come back abnormal or if you have a disease like diabetes that affects the kidneys, then these two tests will be done routinely to monitor the kidney dysfunction and if the treatment you are receiving is working or not. So, creatinine is a chemical waste in the body that should be excreted.

  • This test may also be ordered before any imaging study that uses a contrast that will damage the kidneys, such as a CT scan and also before and after dialysis treatments.
  • In women the normal range is 0.4-1.0 mg/dL. In men the normal range is 0.6-1.2 mg/dL. Women have less muscle mass so their creatinine levels are usually on the low side.
  • A high reading can be due to eclampsia, cancer, shock, kidney stone, kidney damage because of a severe infection. In men, it is important to consider prostate disease. A low reading can be due to a muscle disorder (for example: myesthenia gravis), muscular dystrophy, and diabetes. Pregnancy is also a cause for slightly lower readings.

Please take a second to answer this question. Comments welcomed

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Do not copy this article. It is not free just because it is on the internet.

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This means don't copy this article. It also means if you DO copy, a DMCA notice of copyright infringement will be filed against you. | Source

Part three completes this series

Click link to continue reading at What Do My Blood Test Results Mean? - Part THREE - Complete Metabolic Panel - CMP (last one in this series)

If you missed the first one in this series, here's the link: What Do My Blood Test Results Mean? - Part ONE - Complete Metabolic Panel - CMP

Published January 2012 Anne DiGeorge

Updated 2/3/2014 by Rachael O'Halloran to replace pixelated copyscape logos and correct format issues.

© 2012 awordlover

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