Serum Bicarbonate TestDr Pravallika KLast Updated on 21st March 2022
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What is the serum bicarbonate test used for?
A serum bicarbonate test determines if you have any imbalance in your blood pH (acidosis or alkalosis) or any electrolyte imbalances.
Your doctor may ask you to go for a serum bicarbonate test if you have:
- Unresolved vomiting or diarrhoea
- Constant fatigue and tiredness
- Troubled/difficulty in breathing
If you are undergoing treatment for any lung, liver, kidney, or gastrointestinal condition, your physician may recommend a serum bicarbonate test at regular intervals to monitor the effectiveness of therapy.
What is included in the serum bicarbonate test?
The serum bicarbonate test measures the bicarbonate level in the blood. And, it is generally ordered as part of an electrolyte or metabolic panel that also measures sodium, potassium, and chloride levels in the blood. Together, all of these provide comprehensive information to the physician and help your doctor approach a definitive diagnosis.
Other tests that might be ordered along with the serum bicarbonate test to understand the pH status of the body better are arterial blood gases, electrolytes, anion gap blood testing, and urine pH testing.
Procedure for serum bicarbonate test
A blood sample is required for conducting the serum bicarbonate test. Our lab technician will arrive at your doorstep at your chosen time slot and will collect the blood sample. The blood sample is drawn through a needle from a vein in the arm. You will feel a sting during the needle insertion. The blood sample will then be sent to the certified lab you chose through the MFine app, and the test will be performed using modern equipment. Your serum bicarbonate test results will be available on the MFine app within the next 24 to 48 hours.
How to prepare for a serum bicarbonate test?
No fasting or any other special preparation is required for this test. However, you must inform your doctor about all the medicines, herbs, or supplements that you might be taking so that the doctor can tell you if any of these need to be stopped before the test to get accurate test results.
Steroids, barbiturates, loop diuretics, hydrocortisone, bicarbonates, fludrocortisone are some medicines that may increase the bicarbonate levels of the blood. Eating acidic foods such as lemons, grapes, plums, etc. may also increase bicarbonate levels.
Tetracycline, triamterene, thiazide diuretics, nitrofurantoin, and methicillin are medications that may lower the bicarbonate levels of the blood.
Do not stop any medication on your own. Instead, consult your doctor for advice.
Avoid eating fruits with a high acid content, like citrus fruits, before undergoing the serum bicarbonate test, as it may give erroneous results.
Things to consider after the serum bicarbonate test is complete
Do not self-interpret or self-diagnose the results once your serum bicarbonate test is complete and the results are available. Your physician has the right knowledge and experience to interpret the results, make the diagnosis, and devise the correct treatment plan for you. If the test results are abnormal, your doctor might recommend some additional tests to make a more definitive diagnosis.
What types of disorders can serum bicarbonate test detect?
The serum bicarbonate test can detect kidney, liver, lungs, or GI tract disorders. Any infection or disease of these organs can lead to electrolyte imbalance and alteration in the acid-base (pH) levels of the blood. These may cause certain symptoms like chronic diarrhea, vomiting, breathing problems, confusion, seizures, coma, etc. An abnormal serum bicarbonate test can also be suggestive of a metabolic or respiratory disorder.
How much does a serum bicarbonate test cost?
The serum bicarbonate test can cost ranging from Rs.160 to Rs.500. The cost might differ depending upon whether it is a standalone serum bicarbonate test or has been ordered as a part of an electrolyte panel which will also check other electrolyte levels. The cost varies in different cities and labs, depending on their infrastructure.
*Disclaimer: The value varies based on location, time, and your preferred lab partner.
How long does it take to get the results for the serum bicarbonate test?
You can expect to get the results for the serum bicarbonate test within 24 to 48 hours after the sample is collected. However, in certain cases, depending on the location, medical advice, and preferred lab partner, it may take longer.
What do abnormal serum bicarbonate test results indicate?
The normal serum bicarbonate levels are 23 to 29 mEq/L or mmol/L for adults. In children, the ranges vary widely across different ages. Reference values for particular ages will be mentioned in lab reports.
High or low serum bicarbonate results suggest that the body has trouble maintaining the correct pH (acid-base) balance. It might indicate a disease of the kidneys or lungs due to which they are not functioning properly and are unable to flush out CO2 adequately, or can also result due to several other reasons listed below:
High levels of serum bicarbonate levels may indicate any of the following conditions:
- Metabolic alkalosis happens when the blood pH becomes alkaline due to excessive loss of acids from the body. It may happen due to prolonged vomiting, diarrhoea, or other diseases.
- Compensated respiratory acidosis
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Kidney disease
- Lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc.
- Cushing syndrome
Low levels of serum bicarbonate levels are seen with the below conditions:
- Metabolic acidosis – It indicates high levels of acid in the body
- Compensated Respiratory alkalosis
- Lactic acidosis
- Alcohol poisoning
- Aspirin overdose
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Kidney disease
- Addison disease
- Chronic diarrhoea
Disclaimer: Please consult with your doctor to interpret the test reports correctly.
Is serum bicarbonate test a definitive test?
The serum bicarbonate test is not definitive, as it does not give a definite diagnosis of any disease. Instead, it tells about the electrolyte imbalance, acidosis, or alkalosis state of the body, which is indicative of any underlying diseases of kidneys, lungs, liver, adrenal glands, etc.
A serum bicarbonate test is mainly ordered, as part of an electrolyte or metabolic panel, which includes testing of sodium, potassium, and chloride levels, arterial blood gases, etc as it gives more comprehensive information to the physician. If there are abnormalities in serum bicarbonate levels, your physician may recommend some additional tests.
How to read the serum bicarbonate test report?
The reference ranges might slightly vary in different labs.
An abnormality in serum bicarbonate test report does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from any kidney, liver, or lung disease. This test is not definitive.
This pH balance can be restored with proper treatment, and you need not panic if you get an abnormal result. However, you must contact your healthcare provider for accurate result interpretation and treatment strategy.
|AGE||NORMAL REFERENCE RANGE|
|0-18 Years||Wide variability. Please consult a doctor.|
|Adults||23-29 mEq/L or 23-29 mmol/L|
|>60 years||23-31 mEq/L or 23-31mmol/L|
|>90 years||20-29 mEq/L or 20-29 mmol/L|
Why book a serum bicarbonate test?
You will be advised a serum bicarbonate test:
- If you have the following signs or symptoms:
- Unresolved diarrhoea
- Unresolved nausea and vomiting
- Persistent weakness and tiredness
- Low appetite
- Deep breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Advised as a part of routine blood check-ups.
- When the doctor suspects you have electrolyte or acid-base imbalance.
- To monitor the progression of underlying diseases or conditions that are causing your symptoms.
- To monitor your response to treatment for certain conditions.
It is also advised in other conditions or treatments where changes in bicarbonate levels are expected.
Serum bicarbonate test at home – how does it work?
The serum bicarbonate test is just like any other blood test. A lab technician visits your home when you book your tests through the MFine app. The lab technician first cleans the arm and then inserts a needle attached to a syringe into a vein. The required amount of blood is then taken into a vacutainer. The lab technician then removes the needle and places cotton wool or a bandage over the prick.
Are there any risks involved with the serum bicarbonate test?
There are no risks involved with the serum bicarbonate test other than the usual risks involved with a needle prick, such as slight sting, bruising, soreness in the arm, infection, lightheadedness which usually resolve quickly.
What can affect the results of the serum bicarbonate test?
- Fruits or drinks with a high acid content, like citrus fruits, can affect the results of the serum bicarbonate test and should be avoided before the test.
- Certain medications can increase the bicarbonate levels of the blood, such as steroids, barbiturates, loop diuretics, hydrocortisone, bicarbonates, and fludrocortisone.
- Some of the medications that can lower the bicarbonate levels of the blood are tetracycline, triamterene, thiazide diuretics, nitrofurantoin, and methicillin.
Inform your doctor before the test if you are on any medications or supplements or herbs and follow your doctor’s instructions.
Our Trusted Lab Partners for Serum Bicarbonate Test
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Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs
Is the lab technician coming for serum bicarbonate test sample collection vaccinated?
Yes. Our lab technicians are fully vaccinated. Further, they also ensure safety by wearing masks and gloves and frequently sanitizing themselves during sample collection.
Does MFine provide the interpretation for the results along with the reports?
Yes, MFine provides the interpretation for the result along with the reports. You can also avail a free medical consultation with a doctor to understand your reports accurately. The doctor will also advise and prescribe medicines, if required, based on the results.
How can I download my serum bicarbonate test report?
- Login to MFine
- Go to your profile
- Click on Attachment and Reports
- Click on Lab Report
- Download the report
Are there any discount offers running on serum bicarbonate test?
Usually, you can avail yourself up to a 50% discount on serum bicarbonate test through MFine. However, the discount and test price may vary based on lab partner and location,
What are the symptoms of high bicarbonate levels in the body?
Symptoms of high bicarbonate levels are as follows:
- Muscle spasms or cramps
- Abnormal heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
Is fasting required for serum bicarbonate test?
Fasting is not required for the serum bicarbonate test. However, you should avoid acidic foods before the test as they may alter the results.
What is the normal range for bicarbonate levels in the body?
The normal range for bicarbonate level is 23-29 mEq/L or 23-29 mmol/L. The reference range may vary slightly for different ages and across different labs.
What are the symptoms of low bicarbonate levels?
Symptoms of low bicarbonate levels can be as follows:
- Fatigue and tiredness.
- Long and deep breaths.
- Fast heartbeat.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Headache and/or confusion.
- Loss of appetite.
How can we reduce the risk of metabolic acidosis?
We can reduce the risk of metabolic acidosis by
- Keeping diabetes in control.
- Cutting down alcohol intake.
- Stop smoking.
- Stay hydrated.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
What are the foods that reduce metabolic acidosis?
The foods that decrease the acid levels and help with metabolic acidosis are
- Whole grains
- Low-fat milk
- Lean meat, poultry, fish
Disclaimer: The content is uniquely informative and is meant for educational use. Kindly use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified or registered healthcare provider.