(See also Overview of Electrolytes Overview of Electrolytes Well over half of the body's weight is made up of water. Doctors think about the body's water as being restricted to various spaces, called fluid compartments. The three main compartments are... read more and Overview of Magnesium's Role in the Body Overview of Magnesium's Role in the Body Magnesium is one of the body's electrolytes, which are minerals that carry an electric charge when dissolved in body fluids such as blood, but the majority of magnesium in the body is uncharged... read more .)
Magnesium is one of the body's electrolytes Overview of Electrolytes Well over half of the body's weight is made up of water. Doctors think about the body's water as being restricted to various spaces, called fluid compartments. The three main compartments are... read more , which are minerals Overview of Minerals Minerals are necessary for the normal functioning of the body’s cells. The body needs relatively large quantities of Calcium Chloride Magnesium Phosphate read more that carry an electric charge when dissolved in body fluids such as blood, but the majority of magnesium in the body is uncharged and bound to proteins or stored in bone. Although blood contains very little magnesium Overview of Magnesium's Role in the Body Magnesium is one of the body's electrolytes, which are minerals that carry an electric charge when dissolved in body fluids such as blood, but the majority of magnesium in the body is uncharged... read more , some is still necessary for normal nerve and muscle function and for development of bone and teeth.
Causes of Hypomagnesemia
Usually, the magnesium level becomes low because people consume less (most often, because of starvation) or because the intestine cannot absorb nutrients normally (called malabsorption Overview of Malabsorption Malabsorption syndrome refers to a number of disorders in which nutrients from food are not absorbed properly in the small intestine. Certain disorders, infections, and surgical procedures can... read more ). But sometimes hypomagnesemia develops because the kidneys or intestine excrete too much magnesium.
Hypomagnesemia may also result from the following:
Consuming large amounts of alcohol (common), which reduces consumption of food (and thus magnesium) and increases excretion of magnesium
Protracted diarrhea (common), which increases magnesium excretion
High levels of aldosterone, vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone), or thyroid hormones, which increase magnesium excretion
Drugs that increase magnesium excretion, including diuretics, the antifungal drug amphotericin B, and the chemotherapy drug cisplatin
Chronic use of a proton pump inhibitor Proton pump inhibitors Stomach acid plays a role in a number of disorders of the stomach, including peptic ulcer, gastritis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Although the amount of acid present in the stomach... read more (certain stomach acid reducing drugs)
Breastfeeding, which increases requirements for magnesium
Symptoms of Hypomagnesemia
Hypomagnesemia may cause nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, weakness, personality changes, muscle spasms, tremors, and loss of appetite. If severe, hypomagnesemia can cause seizures Seizure Disorders In seizure disorders, the brain's electrical activity is periodically disturbed, resulting in some degree of temporary brain dysfunction. Many people have unusual sensations just before a seizure... read more , especially in children.
Diagnosis of Hypomagnesemia
Measurement of magnesium level in the blood
The diagnosis is usually based on blood tests indicating that the magnesium level is low. Hypocalcemia Hypocalcemia (Low Level of Calcium in the Blood) In hypocalcemia, the calcium level in blood is too low. A low calcium level may result from a problem with the parathyroid glands, as well as from diet, kidney disorders, or certain drugs. As... read more and hypokalemia Hypokalemia (Low Level of Potassium in the Blood) In hypokalemia, the level of potassium in blood is too low. A low potassium level has many causes but usually results from vomiting, diarrhea, adrenal gland disorders, or use of diuretics. A... read more also may be present.
Other tests may be needed to determine the cause of hypomagnesemia.
Treatment of Hypomagnesemia
Magnesium is given by mouth when the deficiency causes symptoms or persists. People with alcoholism are usually given magnesium.
If a very low magnesium level is causing severe symptoms or if people cannot take magnesium by mouth, magnesium is given by injection into a muscle or vein.
When treating hypomagnesemia, doctors also must correct other electrolyte abnormalities, such as hypocalcemia and hypokalemia.
Underlying conditions that may cause hypomagnesemia are treated.