The anion blood test is used to measure the anion gap that may be in your blood. It is discovered through testing for electrolyte levels within the blood. The goal is to distinguish between anion gap or non-anion gap metabolic acidosis. Acidosis simply refers to the fact that there is more acid in the body than normal, which means cellular functions may be disturbed. If present, it can be treated so that disruptions can be minimized.
The anion blood test can also be used to monitor or evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment plan that has been developed for certain underlying conditions. It does so by taking a look at the differences between measured and unmeasured ions or electrolytes in blood fluids.
The formula for determining your anion gap is this: Sodium – (Chloride + Bicarbonate [total CO2]).
There are other formulas to calculate the anion gap, however, so the results are considered to be non-specific. There isn’t a reference range for results that can be used between these various calculating options which are available, so it is important to know which calculation will be used for this blood test.
When To Ask About the Anion Blood Test
The anion blood test may be ordered when there is an imbalance of electrolytes suspected as part of a patient’s bothersome signs or symptoms. This may include an accumulation of fluid, ongoing nausea or vomiting, weakness, confusion, or frequent irregular heartbeats.
This blood test may also be ordered whenever there is evidence of an acute or chronic illness that is affected a patient’s health. Certain medications may also cause electrolyte imbalances, which may require frequent testing with this blood test to determine if the therapy is being managed correctly.
For patients with a history of high blood pressure, liver or kidney disease, lung disease, or heart failure, the anion blood test may be ordered on a frequent basis. If an imbalance can be caught in its early stages with these health issues, then it is possible to limit the symptoms a patient may experience so their quality of life can be maintained.
Some patients may also have an imbalance of a single electrolyte instead of having a complete imbalance. The signs and symptoms of these issues may range from muscle aches and cramping to unusual thirst patterns to high levels of fatigue.
What Do My Anion Blood Test Results Mean?
Negative or normal test results with the anion blood test generally indicate that there isn’t an electrolyte issue which may be causing a patient’s bothersome signs and symptoms. Further testing may be required to gather more information at this point.
When there are changes to the balance of electrolyte levels within the human body, it can be caused by several different diseases or health conditions. Many times it simply means that there are lifestyle issues that need correction, such as drinking high levels of caffeine.
Certain health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, affect the fluid and electrolyte balances within the body and this causes abnormal electrolyte levels. Kidney conditions can also change specific electrolyte levels based on inadequate processing of them. This may result in diluted or excessive electrolytes depending on the kidney’s conditions.
Here’s What You Need to Know About the Anion Blood Test
Certain steroids, laxative, cough medicines, and contraceptives can change electrolyte levels temporarily, but cause bothersome symptoms because of it. Certain antidepressants and diuretics can also do the same thing. Taking high levels of antacids can cause changes to sodium levels in the blood. Other drugs may increase total CO2 levels, which affects the anion gap calculation as well.
Treatment for these imbalances usually depends on the electrolyte that is out of balance and the extent of the damage that it may be causing. An identification of other co-occurring health issues must also be excluded or addresses within the treatment plan to manage bothersome signs and symptoms. Then the focus is placed on managing the imbalance so that it can slowly begin to correct itself.
The anion blood test is a tool that can help a treating doctor be able to begin determining why a person’s electrolyte imbalance is not correcting itself. This information, when combined with a treatment plan, can help patients begin to feel better over time as the signs and symptoms begin to resolve. If you have questions about whether or not the anion gap calculation could be useful in your situation, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor.