Hypomagnesemia in which magnesium levels fall below normal range is treated by making appropriate dietary changes and if needed, taking magnesium supplements in the correct dosage.
Hypomagnesemia means that the magnesium in the blood has gone down below the normal range. Low magnesium levels is certainly a cause for concern as every organ requires magnesium in adequate amounts to carry out their function correctly. Initially, magnesium deficiency causes frequent muscle cramps, abnormal heart rhythm, depression and weakness and with no treatment magnesium levels keep on sliding down resulting in seizures and fits. Timely treatment is the key to prevent hypomagnesemia from worsening.
How to Overcome Hypomagnesemia
Because just one factor is not responsible for causing hypomagnesemia, treatment will vary depending upon the underlying cause. So before the treatment begins, find out the cause of magnesium deficiency. Following are the options to treat low magnesium levels:
Follow Dietary Changes
When the diet itself is not supplying adequate magnesium, the result is hypomagnesemia. Let magnesium rich foods form the basis of your diet and it won’t take long for blood magnesium to reach normal levels. Magnesium rich foods are the ones that are high in fiber. So, follow a high fiber diet when it comes to restoring magnesium levels.
Some of the high magnesium foods are given below:
- Green vegetables like spinach, artichokes, beans and broccoli
- Fruits such as banana and dried figs
- Nuts that include almonds, cashew nuts and Brazil nuts
- Whole grain products such as brown rice, whole wheat bread and whole grain cereals
- Dark chocolate
Take Magnesium Supplements
Healthy dietary changes might not be enough when it comes to treating severe cases of hypomagnesemia in both children and adults. In other words, when magnesium levels have dropped to alarmingly low levels, in addition to healthy diet, the doctor may recommend magnesium oxide or magnesium sulfate supplements to overcome hypomagnesemia. Oral or intravenous administration of supplements will depend on how severe is the deficiency. Moderate cases of magnesium deficiency will be treated orally, whereas severe magnesium deficiency that causes seizures are treated with intravenous infusion. Dosage will vary according to the age and weight of the patient.
It is obvious that children will be put on a lower dose as compared to the dosage prescribed for adults. The body weight plays a crucial factor in deciding the dosage in children. It is estimated that for every kg body weight, the magnesium dosage increases by 10-20mg. Some of the hypomagnesemia medications sold under various brand names are Sulfamag and Mag-OX. Do not forget to consult a doctor before taking these supplements for hypomagnesemia. Taking the treatment in the correct is very important to cure magnesium deficiency.
Avoid or Reduce Alcohol Consumption
The habit of heavy drinking can take a toll on one’s health, which may result in hypomagnesemia. This is because absorption of magnesium takes a backseat when excess alcohol is being consumed. Alcohol reduces your ability to absorb magnesium sufficiently. No wonder, heavy drinkers eventually show low magnesium in their blood test. So, even if a diet rich in magnesium forms an integral part of your lifestyle, you may still get diagnosed with hypomagnesemia, if alcohol use is not brought under control.
Take Medications with Caution
Chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin are used to treat cancers related to the ovaries, testicles and the bladder. However, like any other medicine they are not devoid of side effects. Hypomagnesemia can occur as a side effect of cisplatin. Reducing the dosage or going for other chemotherapy drug may help to resolve the issue. Antibiotics like streptomycin, tobramycin and pentamidine also prompt the kidneys to excrete more magnesium through urine. Diuretics that are given in the treatment of edema and high blood pressure can also lead to low magnesium levels. This is because they increase urination rate in order to drain excess fluid to relieve edema.
However, along with urine, other electrolytes like magnesium and potassium are also removed from the body. Therefore too much use of diuretics may cause a significant dip in magnesium levels. So, taking all these medicines as instructed by the doctor in the right dosage is necessary to minimize the impact of side effects.
Correct Intestinal Disorders
Even if the daily diet is a good source of magnesium, the body is unable to absorb enough of it, which may also cause hypomagnesemia. Now, our absorption of nutrients mainly takes place in the small intestine. It is observed that diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis that also affect the small intestine can make the body less capable in absorbing nutrients.
These gastrointestinal disorders can also cause chronic diarrhea, bloating gas and abdominal pain. Treatment mainly involves incorporating healthy lifestyle modifications such as exercising regularly and eliminating gaseous foods from the diet. OTC anti-diarrheal medicines might also work to get relief from diarrhea.
Identify and Cure the Underlying Medical Condition
Many times, hypomagnesemia has been attributed to underlying medical problems like poor kidney function. When the kidneys are not working efficiently,the person may develop low magnesium levels. As we all know, the main job of the kidneys is to maintain constituents of blood in the normal range. Anything in excess is filtered by the kidneys and eliminated in the form of urine.
However, kidney dysfunction can cause excess excretion of magnesium leading to hypomagnesemia. In such cases, the patient needs to undergo kidney function tests to evaluate how effectively the kidneys are functioning. The test results may help to diagnose the kidney disorder and accordingly treatment will be recommended.
Although magnesium rich foods and supplements are the necessary, finding and correcting the underlying cause is crucial to overcome this condition. Otherwise, the medicinal dosage and food are likely to provide temporary relief as the magnesium deficiency symptoms keep on recurring until the underlying medical condition is diagnosed and treated successfully.