Anion Gap Test: What Is It For?

The interesting thing about the anion gap is it’s not a test itself. It’s instead based on another test that’s known as “electrolyte panel.” This test is to examine the minerals in your body known as electrolytes. They have a positive or negative charge that helps to control your body’s chemicals known as acids & bases.

There are many blood tests that doctors can order and one of the common ones is the anion gap test. This blood test checks how much acid is in the patient’s blood. This is useful because it’s important for a person to have an acidic/alkaline balance in their blood. A person’s blood changes during the day in terms of its pH level. However, it’s important for it to be within a certain range in order to maintain good health. In fact, if your blood’s pH has a high amount of positive or negative electrolytes it could be a sign you have some health conditions.

We often think of acid as being a bad thing. However, it’s important for your blood to have the right amount. If it has too much or too little it can cause various health issues. That’s a bad thing. It’s all about getting the right number of positive/negative electrolytes in your body. If that’s the case then it’s a good sign that your overall health is on track. The doctor orders this test when you show signs like shortness of breath, which is caused by blood that’s too acidic or alkaline. Other tests might also be run based on the results but anion is a starting point.

What Is Anion Gap?

The interesting thing about the anion gap is it’s not a test itself. It’s instead based on another test that’s known as “electrolyte panel.” This test is to examine the minerals in your body known as electrolytes. They have a positive or negative charge that helps to control your body’s chemicals known as acids & bases.

Electrolytes can have positive or negative charges. This affects the body’s acids and bases. It’s important for your body to stay within an average range. The Anion test is used by doctors to help determine if someone has problems involving organs like the kidneys or lungs.  

Your doctor might order other tests to help pinpoint the exact health condition you have. However, the starting point is the anion test in order to determine whether your blood is overly acidic or alkaline.

When do you need this test? A doctor will order it based on signs that you might have an imbalance of acids/bases in your blood. Some symptoms to watch out for include:

  1. Vomiting
  2. Confusion
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Irregular heart rate

These symptoms can actually be a sign of different conditions. Your physician can help to sort things out and determine whether or not it’s related to a pH imbalance or something else.

It’s important to keep in mind that the anion gap isn’t an actual test. Your doctor will first request that the electrolyte test be run. The anion “test” is based on those results.

So, if your electrolytes are highly positive or negative it could indicate that your blood is more acidic or basic (alkaline) than normal.  This is one step in the process of being diagnosed with a blood pH imbalance. What if you’re not sure if you have one? Contact your doctor to be on the safe side since the pH level could be a sign you need treatment ASAP.

What Do the Results Mean?

This is a big issue because it can be a sign that you do or don’t have certain medical conditions. A high anion gap means that your level of blood acid is higher than average.

This can be a sign of different conditions. It could simply mean that you’re exercising too much (it’s a thing) or you have dehydration from heat or diarrhea. On the other hand, it might be signs of more serious health conditions. Here are some common causes:

  1. Diabetes
  2. High levels of aspirin
  3. Lactic acid buildup
  4. High alcohol levels
  5. Drug overdose
  6. Kidney disease

On the other end of the scale, there’s a low anion gap. This can be caused by various issues that are often related to low levels of albumin. Low levels of this protein are quite rare. In many cases, a low anion result actually means the test results aren’t correct.

If you get a low anion then make sure to talk with your doctor. In many cases, they’ll order the test to be rerun to double-check whether or not your blood is actually alkaline.

Low levels of this protein can be caused by various factors. They include recent surgery, serious burns, bad diet, and kidney/liver disease.

There’s a caveat. “Normal” results can vary greatly. So, there’s a good chance your doctor will suggest that other tests be run in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

The bottom line is it’s important for your doctor to determine whether your blood is in the normal range or overly high in acid or alkaline. It’s more likely it’s more acidic than normal but in some cases, it could be overly alkaline.

As usual, the key is to get tested and let your doctor sort things out. The results could show your condition is major, minor, or normal. In each situation, you’ll have peace of mind.

Treatment and Prevention

Whether or not you have highly acidic or alkaline blood, the treatment will be based on the particular cause of the symptom. As always make sure to talk to your physician if you think you might have blood that’s overly high or low on the pH scale.

It’s important to prevent overly acidic or alkaline blood. Since overly acidic blood is much more common here are some helpful tips to lower your blood’s pH level:

Drink some lemon water

If you’re trying to make your body more alkaline why would you consume super-acidic cringe-worthy fruit? The key here is that you’re adding a slice of the citric fruit to water. It’s also worth noting that eating certain foods doesn’t directly change your body’s pH balance.

This healthy drink helps to add oxygen to the water and make enzymes work better. It also helps to cleanse your body and ditch toxins like uric acid.

Hit the gym (or field, track, pool, etc.) 

More exercise can help neutralize your body’s blood, cell fluids, and tissues. Make it at least 30 minutes per day.

Get your pH level checked

OK, this might seem like a case of stating the obvious. The problem is the blood’s pH levels change many times during the day based on different factors.  So, it’s important to get the pH checked on a regular basis.

You can use some basic pH strips found at online stores like Amazon. They’re fairly cheap and fast/easy to use. This will give you a snapshot of your body’s acid/alkaline levels.

Eat green leafy veggies

This is one of the healthiest types of vegetables you can eat. Spinach, kale, and arugula are some of the many options for detox food. You can enjoy these foods in different ways including smoothies. Just toss in some ingredients like apple slices to help achieve a lower anion gap. test. 

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