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Hypermagnesemia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Hypermagnesemia?

Magnesium is a vital mineral present in the body. It is an important ingredient for many uses as an electrolyte and influences other electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and calcium. It also plays a significant role in bone health of a person. Magnesium also plays a role in cardiovascular function. Magnesium present in the body is stored in the bones. In combination with calcium, magnesium gains significant importance in the functioning of various neuromuscular functions as well as it being an electrolyte plays a role in the electrical activity taking place in the myocardium.[1,2,3]

Under normal circumstances, in a healthy person, very minute amount of magnesium is stored. The amount of magnesium is controlled and regulated by the digestive and the renal systems of the body. Any excess magnesium present is eliminated through the urine. The normal range of magnesium in the body is 1.7-2.3 mg/dL.[1,2,3]

Sometimes, however, the magnesium levels increase in the body to abnormal levels. This is what is termed as Hypermagnesemia. It is quite a rare disorder and is seen mostly in people with kidney dysfunction.[1,2,3]

What Causes Hypermagnesemia?

The main cause of Hypermagnesemia is reduced kidney function. When this happens the body is not able to eliminate the excess magnesium produced causing Hypermagnesemia. This leads to a gradual build-up of magnesium. There are also certain treatments for chronic kidney disease like use of PPIs. This also increases the risk of Hypermagnesemia. People who abuse alcohol, and have been doing so for a long time, are also at risk for developing Hypermagnesemia.[3]

Additionally, people who do not get proper intake of food or are malnourished also run the risk for developing Hypermagnesemia. It is extremely rare for a person with normal kidney function to develop Hypermagnesemia. Even if a person develops this condition, the symptoms caused by it will be very mild [3].

Some of the other causes of Hypermagnesemia include lithium therapy, underactive thyroid, Addison Disease, overuse of laxatives or antacids that contain magnesium. Hypermagnesemia can also develop in people who are being treated for drug overdose with medications that contain magnesium. Females that take magnesium for preeclampsia are also at risk for developing Hypermagnesemia if they take high dose of it.[3]

What are the Symptoms of Hypermagnesemia?

Some of the primary symptoms of Hypermagnesemia include nausea and vomiting. Some people also complain of neurological impairment. There have also been some cases where a person with Hypermagnesemia has developed acute hypotension. Other symptoms include facial flushing and headaches. In some cases, Hypermagnesemia can also cause cardiac abnormalities with difficulty breathing and even shock or coma in very severe cases.[3]

How is Hypermagnesemia Treated?

The treatment for Hypermagnesemia is focused on firstly identifying the cause of it and preventing the patient from intake of any magnesium through any source. The next step is to start an IV calcium supply to decrease some of the serious symptoms like problems with breathing and other cardiovascular complications like severe hypotension.[3]

Diuretics and water pills are also quite effective in getting rid of excess magnesium in the body by way of urine. People with end stage renal disease may require dialysis to get excess magnesium out of the body. This is also necessary for those who do not respond to other forms of treatment.[3]

It is quite evident that people with kidney issues are at maximum risk for Hypermagnesemia. This is the reason why such people should be extra careful with their dietary and medicine intake. They should avoid taking anything that contains magnesium including some of the over the counter laxatives. It is essential for physicians to check for Hypermagnesemia in people who have underperforming kidneys and develop symptoms that have been mentioned above.[3]

What Is The Prognosis Of Hypermagnesemia?

In cases of early detection and treatment, Hypermagnesemia is a condition that is definitely treatable. If the kidneys function normally then most of the excess magnesium is excreted out through urine once the source has been identified and stopped. However, if the treatment is delayed or there is a late diagnosis then it is much harder to treat Hypermagnesemia, especially in people who have kidney problems.[3]

Symptoms however can be managed effectively with dialysis and medications containing calcium. For the elderly population with renal dysfunction, Hypermagnesemia is a clear risk and the complications that can arise from it. The mortality rate of such people is very high due to Hypermagnesemia and thus it is necessary to get admitted in the hospital and start treatment at the soonest possible time to prevent any complications arising out of Hypermagnesemia.[3]


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 19, 2021

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