Carbon dioxide test, CO2 test
This test measures the amount of bicarbonate, a form of carbon dioxide, in your blood.
Bicarbonate, also known as HCO3, is a byproduct of your body's metabolism. Your blood brings bicarbonate to your lungs, and then it is exhaled as carbon dioxide. Your kidneys also help regulate bicarbonate. Bicarbonate is excreted and reabsorbed by your kidneys. This regulates your body's pH, or acid balance. Bicarbonate also works with sodium, potassium, and chloride, also called electrolytes. These are usually measured at the same time as bicarbonate.
This test is usually part of a comprehensive series of blood tests to check for certain health conditions.
You may need this test to monitor issues that affect pH levels in your blood. You may also have this test if you have kidney disease, liver failure, or other conditions related to metabolism.
Your healthcare provider may also order several other tests. These may include:
Arterial blood gas analysis
Electrolyte (sodium, potassium, and chloride) testing as part of a basic or comprehensive metabolic panel
Urine pH testing
Anion gap blood testing
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
Results are given in milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) or millimoles per L (mmol/L). Normal bicarbonate levels are:
23 to 30 mEq/L in adults
A high level of bicarbonate in your blood can be from metabolic alkalosis, a condition that causes a pH increase in tissue. Metabolic alkalosis can happen from a loss of acid from your body, such as through vomiting and dehydration. It may also be related to conditions including anorexia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
A low level of bicarbonate in your blood may cause a condition called metabolic acidosis, or too much acid in the body. A wide range of conditions, including diarrhea, kidney disease, and liver failure, can cause metabolic acidosis.
The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand.
Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore.
Eating acidic fruits could affect your results. Medicines that may raise your levels include:
Medicines that may lower your levels include:
You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.