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How to Measure Blood Acidosis and Urinary pH Levels to Monitor Your Adrenal Health

Your healthcare provider can order two blood tests to get a sense of how acidic your blood is to monitor for adrenal fatigue. The first test is a serum (blood) bicarbonate level. The level of bicarbonate (a base) is often measured in the routine blood work that your doctor orders. It's often part of a lab chemistry panel called a CHEM-7 or a basic metabolic panel.

A normal reference range for a serum bicarbonate level in the blood is 23 to 27 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Levels less than 23 suggest that your blood is more acidic than it should be, making it a source of acute adrenal stress.

Other lab chemistries sometimes reveal other conditions that may be causing your blood to be acidic:

  • Diabetes: If your glucose level is really high (a normal level is 70 to 100milligrams per deciliter or less), an element of diabetes may be causing the acidosis.

  • Kidney problems: If your serum creatinine level is higher than normal, a kidney problem may be contributing to your acidosis. For most people, a serum creatinine less than 1.0 milligram per deciliter means the kidneys are functioning normally.

  • Adrenal exhaustion: If your sodium level is low and your potassium level is high, adrenal exhaustion may be contributing to your acidosis. The range for a normal sodium level in the blood is 135 to 140 mEq/L. The normal potassium range in the blood is 3.5 to 5.0 mEq/L.

The second pH test is a check of the blood's pH level. A normal pH is approximately 7.36. Anything less than that is acidic. Doctors may order a pH from blood initially, in addition to other serum chemistries, if multiple reasons suggest that the body is acidic. However, blood pH isn't a test doctors routinely order.

Of all the types of tests that look for acidosis as an indicator of adrenal fatigue, some doctors like the urinary pH test the best. It's easy to do, and it measures the body's pH status more accurately than other tests. You can do a urinary pH test either at your healthcare provider's office or at home:

  • At the doctor's office: If you go to the doctor's office, he or she can often do a urinalysis right there. It measures many things, including urine pH, glucose, protein, and blood.

    If you go to a lab and get the popular UA (urinary analysis) to include a pH, the urine pH may not accurately reflect your body's chemistry. If your urine sample sits too long, it can become more acidic — and a lab technician may have many urinalyses to process. Some doctors consider measuring in real time to be better.

  • At home: You can use many urine pH kits at home. You can urinate in a small cup and dip a pH testing strip in it, or you can void directly on the testing strip. Talk with your holistic healthcare practitioner about which urine pH testing strips are right for you.

Your urinary pH should be approximately 6.5 to 7.0. That's the goal. Expect it to be lower (more acidic) until you begin to change your diet and body chemistry.

At the bare minimum, you want to check your urinary pH first thing in the morning. The urine pH will be the most acidic in the morning and more reflective of your body's true acid-base status. You also can (and should) check it at least once in the afternoon and once in the evening.

The food and drink that you consume can alter your urine pH. You want to see how close you are to maintaining your urine pH to 6.5 to 7.0 range, not only in the morning but throughout the day as well.

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