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What is hypomagnesemia?

Hypomagnesemia is a condition that develops when the amount of magnesium in your body is too low. Magnesium is a mineral that is responsible for bone strength, and muscle and nerve function.

What increases my risk for hypomagnesemia?

  • Highly processed foods
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Alcoholism or long-term, heavy alcohol use
  • Medicines, such as proton pump inhibitors (medicines for reflux), antibiotics, diuretics, insulin, and some forms of chemotherapy
  • Health conditions, such as bowel disorders, diabetes, and some forms of kidney disease
  • Serious injuries, burns, surgery, or heart attacks
  • Heredity (passed through family genes)

What are the signs and symptoms of hypomagnesemia?

You may have no signs or symptoms at first. As your condition becomes more serious, you may develop any of the following:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle tightness, tremors, or twitches
  • Irritability or insomnia
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Severe drowsiness, fatigue, and confusion
  • Increased or irregular heart rate
  • Seizure
  • Coma

How is hypomagnesemia diagnosed?

  • Blood tests will show the level of magnesium in your blood.
  • A 24 hour urine test will show the amount of magnesium leaving your body through your urine. You will need to collect all of your urine for 24 hours. You will urinate into a container and the urine will be put into a jug. The jug will need to be kept cold. At the end of 24 hours, the urine will be sent to a lab for tests.

How is hypomagnesemia treated?

  • Oral magnesium is given if you have no symptoms and tests show you have mild hypomagnesemia.
  • Intravenous (IV) magnesium is given when your symptoms and tests show you have moderate to life-threatening hypomagnesemia.

What are the risks of hypomagnesemia?

Intravenous magnesium can cause skin redness, low blood pressure, and slow and irregular heartbeats. If not treated, hypomagnesemia can cause low calcium and potassium in your blood. It can also increase your risk for diabetes by preventing insulin from lowering your blood sugar levels. You may also be at risk for hardening of the arteries and other heart problems, such as fast and irregular heartbeats, which can be life-threatening.

How can hypomagnesemia be prevented?

  • Manage health conditions by following the treatment plan your caregivers have for you. Health conditions such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, and chronic diarrhea can put you at risk for hypomagnesemia.
  • Eat foods high in magnesium , such as dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes (beans, soy, and lentils).
  • Limit alcohol , because alcohol can prevent your body from absorbing magnesium. Alcohol also makes your body release large amounts of magnesium through your urine. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • You may need to take a magnesium supplement. Ask your caregiver which supplement to take and how often to take it.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have fatigue and muscle tremors or twitching.
  • You become irritable and have trouble sleeping.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have numbness and tingling in your arms or legs.
  • You have painful muscle spasms and tremors in your arms or legs.
  • You are not able to move your muscles, and you have trouble thinking clearly.
  • Your heartbeat is faster than normal for you, or is irregular.
  • You have a seizure.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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