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Ammonia

Risks continued...

There is little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from an artery.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for at least 10 minutes after the needle is removed (longer if you have bleeding problems or take blood thinners).
  • You may feel lightheaded, faint, dizzy, or nauseated while the blood is being drawn from your artery.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.
  • On rare occasions, the needle may damage a nerve or the artery, causing the artery to become blocked.

Though problems are rare, be careful with the arm or leg that had the blood draw. Do not lift or carry objects for about 24 hours after you have had blood drawn from an artery.

Results

An ammonia test measures the amount of ammonia in the blood. Results are usually available within 12 hours.

Normal

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Ammonia1

Adults:

15–60 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL)

21–50 micromoles per liter (mcmol/L)

Children:

70–135 mcg/dL

41–80 mcmol/L

Newborns:

170–340 mcg/dL

100–200 mcmol/L

High values

High levels of ammonia in the blood may be caused by:

High ammonia values in a baby may be present when the blood types of a mother and her baby do not match (hemolytic disease of the newborn).

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

What To Think About

  • Ammonia levels do not always reflect the severity of a person's symptoms. For example, a person with severe cirrhosis may have only slightly elevated blood ammonia levels and yet may not be thinking clearly or may be sleepy or in a coma. Other people with very high ammonia levels may think and act normally.
  • Symptoms of a high ammonia level, such as confusion or extreme sleepiness, may be treated with a medicine called lactulose, a laxative that works by reducing ammonia production in the intestines camera.gif.
  • It is common for newborns to have slightly high levels of ammonia in their blood. But the levels are temporary and usually do not cause symptoms.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 04, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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