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July 31, 2000


Question from :

My son is 12 and was diagnosed about one year ago. His endocrinologistis office called today about an irregular carbon dioxide (CO2) reading. They said his level was 29.8%. They want to do another test to check his kidney function level. How do the two levels relate to each other? I thought CO2 was carbon dioxide level. Is this cause for alarm?


From: DTeam Staff

I think you will have to ask your son’s endocrinologist to explain this to you because it is not clear, from the limited information that you give, why he/she ordered the test in the first place. It would not be the most sensitive test of kidney function linked to diabetes, which is very unusual anyway in a 12 year old who has had diabetes for a year. The figures are indeed above normal, but, whilst a low figure indicating ketoacidosis would be a common reason to measure CO2, the high figures make me wonder if this has not been laboratory error. A high CO2 level might indicate what is called respiratory acidosis (the lungs not able to get rid of CO2), such as might occur in an asthmatic attack. It might also reflect what is called metabolic alkalosis, such as you can get with repeated vomiting or with potassium deficiency. All this sounds rather improbable, so again my guess is laboratory error. The doctor was certainly right to ask to repeat the test.