Elevated Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Levels in Blood

Test Overview and Procedure

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gaseous waste product from metabolism. The blood carries carbon dioxide to your lungs, where it is exhaled. More than 90% of it in your blood exists through bicarbonate (HCO3). The rest of it is either liquified carbon dioxide gas (CO2) or carbonic acid (H2CO3). Your kidneys and lungs balance the levels of carbon dioxide, bicarbonate, and carbonic acid in the blood.

This test measures the level of bicarbonate in a sample of blood from a vein. Bicarbonate is a chemical that serves as a buffer. It keeps the pH of blood from becoming too acidic or too fundamental.

Bicarbonate is not typically tested by itself. The test might be done on a blood sample drawn from a vein as part of a panel of tests that takes a look at other electrolytes. These might consist of products such as salt, potassium, and chloride. It can also be done as part of an arterial blood gas (ABG) test. For this blood gas study, the blood sample originates from an artery.

Why It Is Done

A carbon dioxide test assists discover and checks conditions that impact blood bicarbonate levels. These consist of numerous kidney diseases, some lung diseases, and metabolic issues.

This test is typically done as part of a group of lab blood tests (chemistry screen) to help discover the cause of many type of symptoms.

How To Prepare

You do not need to do anything special to get ready for this test.

Make sure to inform your doctor about all the medicines you take, even non-prescription ones. Lots of medicines can alter the outcomes of this test.

Talk to your doctor if you have any issues about the requirement for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the outcomes will indicate. To assist you find out about this test and how essential it is, complete the medical test details form( What is a PDF document?)

How It Is Done

The health expert taking a sample of your blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the circulation of blood. This makes the veins listed below the band bigger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick might be needed.
  • Connect a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Eliminate the band from your arm when enough blood is gathered.
  • Use a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure on the site then place on a bandage.

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is twisted around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel absolutely nothing at all from the needle, or you might feel a fast sting or pinch.

Risks of the Test

There is really little opportunity of a problem from having a blood sample drawn from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the opportunity of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein might become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This issue is called phlebitis. You can use a warm compress several times a day to treat this.
  • Bleeding can be an issue for people who have bleeding conditions or take blood-thinning medicines such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin). If you have bleeding or thickening problems, or if you take blood-thinning medication, inform your doctor prior to your blood sample is taken.

Understanding of Carbon Dioxide Levels in Blood

A carbon dioxide (bicarbonate) test determines the level of bicarbonate in the blood.

These numbers are simply a guide. The variety for “nornal” differs from laboratory to laboratory. Your laboratory might have a various range. Your laboratory report should show what variety your lab uses for “typical.” Also, your doctor will examine your outcomes based upon your health and other aspects. So a number that is outside the regular variety here may still be typical for you.

Outcomes are generally prepared in 1 to 2 days.

Carbon dioxide (bicarbonate, CO2)
Normal Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Body 23–30 mEq/L (23–30 mmol/L)

High CO2 Levels in Blood: Causes and Symptoms

High carbon dioxide (bicarbonate) levels may be triggered by:

Vomiting, dehydration, blood transfusions, or overuse of medications which contain bicarbonate (especially antacids).
Conditions such as anorexia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), heart disease, Cushing’s disease, or Conn’s syndrome.

Low CO2 Levels in Blood: Causes and Symptoms

Low carbon dioxide (bicarbonate) levels might be brought on by:

  • Hyperventilation, aspirin or alcohol overdose, diarrhea, dehydration, or severe malnutrition.
  • Liver or kidney disease, an enormous cardiac arrest, hyperthyroidism, or unrestrained diabetes.

What Affects the Test

You may not be able to have the test, or the outcomes might not be valuable, if:

  • You drink liquids that are extremely acidic, such as orange juice or some types of carbonated beverages, shortly before the test.
  • You take certain medications, such as diuretics, some antibiotics, glaucoma medicine, or corticosteroids.
  • The person taking the blood sample leaves the elastic band on your arm for too long before taking the blood sample.

What To Think About

The carbon dioxide (bicarbonate) test likewise can be done on a blood sample drawn from an artery for an arterial blood gas (ABG) test. To read more, see the topic Arterial Blood Gases.


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