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What Are the Causes of Low Carbon Dioxide in the Blood?

author image Leigh Ann Morgan
Leigh Ann Morgan began working as a writer in 2004. She has extensive experience in the business field having served as the manager of a $34 million rental property portfolio. Morgan also appeared as a guest on an episode of National Public Radio's "Marketplace Money" in 2005.
What Are the Causes of Low Carbon Dioxide in the Blood?
Diabetics need to test their blood to avoid low carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide helps the blood vessels constrict and relax, and it also plays a role in cellular respiration. When a human inhales, he takes in oxygen. When he exhales, he releases carbon dioxide. Most of the carbon dioxide in the blood occurs in the form of bicarbonate. The carbon dioxide blood test, also called the bicarbonate test, measures the amount of bicarbonate in the bloodstream. Some medical conditions and drugs cause low bicarbonate levels.

Kidney Disease

The kidneys maintain normal levels of sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide and phosphorus in the blood. When kidney disease or kidney failure impairs kidney function, these organs no longer carry out this function properly. Carbon dioxide levels decrease, resulting in the need for treatment. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that oral or intravenous sodium bicarbonate helps correct low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. If carbon dioxide levels do not respond to this treatment, doctors prescribe dialaysis. During dialysis, a machine removes blood from the body, filters waste and returns the blood to the circulatory system via plastic tubes.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when a person cannot use glucose properly. This occurs in diabetics who do not have enough insulin to help the glucose enter the cells of the body. When the body cannot use glucose for energy, it uses fat as an energy source, resulting in the production of ketones. As ketones build up in the body, the person develops diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition causes carbon dioxide levels to decrease. Treatment for this condition involves the administration of insulin to restore blood glucose levels to normal. Carbon dioxide levels increase slowly in the first six hours of treatment, according to the Medical College of Georgia.


Chronic or severe diarrhea causes hyperchloremic acidosis. Medline Plus defines this condition as a type of acidosis that occurs when the body loses an excessive amount of sodium bicarbonate. When the body loses sodium bicarbonate, it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. Patients with mild hyperchloremic acidosis and normal electrolyte levels do not require treatment, according to Dr. Sam Wilkins of Emory University School of Medicine.

Addison's Disease

The adrenal glands produce hormones that play a role in electrolyte balance, blood pressure regulation and the maintenance of normal blood volume. Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol. Cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, plays a role in the body's response to stress. Lab Tests Online, a website published by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, reports that Addison's disease causes low levels of sodium, carbon dioxide and chloride in the blood.

Chemical Toxicity

Aspirin contains salicylates, which are compounds found in the leaves, roots, bark and seeds of some plants. Overdosing on aspirin and substances that contain salicylates, methanol or ethylene glycol causes metabolic acidosis. The Merck Manuals Home Edition defines this type of acidosis as one that occurs when someone ingests a substance that increases the amount of acid in the body.

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