Magnesium Imbalances – Causes, Symptoms and treatment

What do doctors call these conditions?

Hypomagnesemia, hypermagnesemia
What are these conditions?

Too little magnesium in the blood is called hypomagnesemia; too much, hypermagnesemia. Magnesium imbalance can affect many of the body’s functions because magnesium is found in the fluid that surrounds all the body’s cells. Its major role is to keep nerves and muscles functioning properly.

Magnesium also stimulates the parathyroid glands, four tiny glands in the neck, to secrete parathyroid hormone. If these glands don’t produce sufficient hormones, the level of calcium in the blood will fall.

Magnesium also activates many enzymes that help the body extract nutrients from foods and carry them to the body’s organs.
Who suffers from a magnesium imbalance?

Because many common foods contain magnesium, a dietary deficiency is rare. Magnesium deficiency primarily strikes people who have been receiving intravenous feedings or who have other imbalances, especially low calcium and potassium levels. Magnesium excess is common in people with kidney failure and in those who take too many magnesium-containing antacids.
What causes magnesium deficiency?

Low magnesium levels are usually linked to poor absorption of magnesium in the intestines or excessive excretion in the urine or stools. Possible causes include:

• poor absorption because of chronic diarrhea or complications after bowel surgery, chronic alcoholism, prolonged diuretic therapy, suctioning of the stomach by a nasal tube, starvation, or malnutrition

• excessive loss of magnesium due to severe dehydration and diabetic acidosis or imbalances in iodine, calcium, and other elements and hormones.
What causes magnesium excess?

High magnesium levels result from the kidneys’ inability to excrete magnesium that was either absorbed from the intestines or taken as medication. Common causes include:

• chronic kidney insufficiency

• use of laxatives (magnesium sulfate, milk of magnesia, and magnesium citrate solutions), especially with kidney insufficiency

• overuse of magnesium-containing antacids

• severe dehydration

• overcorrection of low magnesium levels.
What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?

Too little magnesium causes neuromuscular irritability and irregular heartbeats. A person may experience confusion, emotional instability, or even delusions or hallucinations. He or she also may develop nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, and a rapid heart rate.
What are the symptoms of magnesium excess?

Too much magnesium depresses the nervous system and breathing and produces neuromuscular and heart effects. The person may experience flushing, profuse sweating, muscle weakness, visual disturbances, sluggishness, drowsiness, or even coma. He or she may have low blood pressure and a slow heart rate.
How are they diagnosed?

After asking about symptoms, the doctor will order blood tests to check the level of magnesium in the person’s system. The doctor will also look for other irregularities, such as low or high levels of potassium and calcium in the blood.
How are they treated?

To treat magnesium imbalance, the doctor will try to identifY and correct the underlying cause. For mild low magnesium, the doctor may prescribe an oral form or intramuscular injections of magnesium supplements. For a severe case, the magnesium is given intravenously.

For high magnesium, the doctor will try to flush out excess magnesium by giving diuretics and having the person drink more fluids. For temporary relief of symptoms in an emergency, the doctor may recommend peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis, especially if kidney function is poor or if excess magnesium can’t be eliminated.