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Hypomagnesemia

Definition

Hypomagnesemia means low levels of magnesium in the blood.

Alternative Names

Low blood magnesium; Magnesium - low

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Several conditions can cause hypomagnesemia, including:

Symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  • Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Convulsions
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness

Signs and tests

Your health care provider will do a complete physical examination to help determine the cause of your symptoms.

Signs include:

Blood and urine tests will be done. Other tests that can confirm hypomagnesemia include:

Treatment

The cause of hypomagnesemia must be diagnosed and treated. Treatment depends on the type of hypomagnesemia, but may include:

  • Fluids given through a vein (IV)
  • Magnesium by mouth or through a vein
  • Medication to relieve symptoms

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome depends on the condition that is causing the problem.

Complications

Calling your health care provider

Hypomagnesemia can be a life-threatening emergency. Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this condition.

Prevention

Treating the condition that is causing hypomagnesemia can help. If you play any demanding sports, drink fluids that contain electrolytes (sports drinks). Drinking only water while you take part in high-energy athletic events can lead to acute hypomagnesemia.

References

Pollak MR, Yu ASL, Taylor EN. Disorders of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous balance. In: Brenner BM, ed. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 16.

Yu ASL. Disorders of magnesium and phosphorous. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 120.


Review Date: 5/29/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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