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Magnesium Sulfate Toxicity Symptoms

A List of Common Symptoms of Magnesium Sulfate Toxicity

You may have used magnesium sulfate as a laxative in the form of epsom salts. This HealthHearty article describes the symptoms of magnesium toxicity, which can be noticed during magnesium sulfate treatment.
Palmira S
Last Updated: May 4, 2018
Magnesium sulfate is a combination of magnesium, oxygen, and sulfur. Some people refer to it as epsom salt. It is used to prevent or stop seizures in a woman with moderate to severe preeclampsia (hypertension, fluid retention and albuminuria in pregnancy, which can lead to eclampsia, if left untreated). It helps stop preterm labor too. It is also used for the treatment of constipation and heartburn. Magnesium plays an important role in the health of nerves and muscles. But, it needs to be consumed in right amounts. Excess or lack of magnesium can have an adverse effect on the body. Magnesium sulfate toxicity treatment involves use of 'calcium gluconate' as it helps relieve the symptoms.
Symptoms of Magnesium Toxicity
  • Symptoms like hives, visual disturbances, headache, difficult breathing, swollen lips/tongue/throat, muscle tightness or contraction, and facial flushing need immediate medical attention.

  • Common side effects may include diarrhea, upset stomach, stuffy nose, and chest pain.

  • Slurred speech, numbness or tingly feeling around your mouth, nausea, vomiting, lack of energy, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, weak or shallow breathing, etc., need prompt medical intervention.

  • Magnesium toxicity can lead to urinary retention (inability to empty the bladder completely).

  • At the injection site, tissue necrosis can be noticed.

  • If central nervous system (CNS) depressant and magnesium sulfate are used at the same time, then it results in enhanced CNS depressant effect.

  • Epsom salt overdose can cause hypotension and renal impairment.

  • Some may suffer from skin infection after soaking.

  • Some people might experience stress due to excess amounts of magnesium.

  • Lethargy and muscle weakness is also observed in some cases.

  • Signs of magnesium sulfate toxicity also include palpitations and high/low heart rate. Changes in the ECG can be observed.

  • Pulmonary edema, where the lungs are filled with fluids, is one of the major magnesium sulfate toxicity symptoms. This side effect can prove fatal.

  • The amount of calcium that is passed through urine may increase. A decrease in the bone density might also be observed.

  • Muscular hyperexcitability is also a serious symptom.

  • In some cases, it can cause intestinal obstruction.

  • Magnesium sulfate, if given in large doses, can affect the fetus's central nervous system. The newborn baby may not be able to breathe properly. Prompt medication helps improve the condition.

  • Magnesium toxicity in pregnancy can lead to increased absorption of water by the intestines, causing distention. It may trigger bowel evacuation. In some cases, it also blocks the transmission of peripheral neuromuscular impulses and depresses the CNS. Loss of the patellar reflex (sudden kicking movement of the lower leg in response to a sharp tap on the patellar tendon, which lies just below the kneecap) is the first warning sign of impending magnesium sulfate toxicity. If the plasma concentration is not controlled, respiratory paralysis occurs. If the plasma concentration continues to increase, cardiac conduction gets affected. Eventually, the condition can lead to cardiac arrest.
However, maternal toxicity is rare when magnesium sulfate is carefully administered and monitored. When taken/given in right amounts, it can be beneficial. Magnesium is an important element which helps in muscular excitability and neurochemical transmission. It assists in enzyme and nerve function. It helps in soothing the muscles and relieving muscle soreness, reducing inflammation. It promotes removal of toxins and improves the overall health of the heart. If you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above, then visit a medical practitioner immediately, and also make sure that you discontinue its consumption.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.