(See also Overview of Electrolytes Overview of Electrolytes Well over half of the body's weight is made up of water. Doctors think about the body's water as being restricted to various spaces, called fluid compartments. The three main compartments are... read more and Overview of Phosphate's Role in the Body Overview of Phosphate's Role in the Body Phosphorus is an element that plays an important role in the body. In the body, almost all phosphorus is combined with oxygen, forming phosphate. Phosphate is one of the body's electrolytes... read more .)
Phosphate is one of the body's electrolytes Overview of Electrolytes Well over half of the body's weight is made up of water. Doctors think about the body's water as being restricted to various spaces, called fluid compartments. The three main compartments are... read more , which are minerals Overview of Minerals Minerals are necessary for the normal functioning of the body’s cells. The body needs relatively large quantities of Calcium Chloride Magnesium Phosphate read more that carry an electric charge when dissolved in body fluids such as blood, but the majority of phosphate in the body is uncharged.
Hypophosphatemia may be
In acute hypophosphatemia, the phosphate level in blood suddenly falls dangerously low. Because the body uses large amounts of phosphate during recovery from certain disorders, acute hypophosphatemia may occur in people recovering from the following conditions:
This sudden drop in phosphate level may result in an abnormal heart rhythm Overview of Abnormal Heart Rhythms Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) are sequences of heartbeats that are irregular, too fast, too slow, or conducted via an abnormal electrical pathway through the heart. Heart disorders are... read more and even death.
In chronic hypophosphatemia, the phosphate Overview of Phosphate's Role in the Body Phosphorus is an element that plays an important role in the body. In the body, almost all phosphorus is combined with oxygen, forming phosphate. Phosphate is one of the body's electrolytes... read more level in blood becomes low over time. Chronic hypophosphatemia usually develops because too much phosphate is excreted. Causes include the following:
Use of diuretics for a long time
Use of large amounts of aluminum-containing antacids for a long time
Use of large amounts of theophylline (used to treat asthma Asthma Asthma is a condition in which the airways narrow—usually reversibly—in response to certain stimuli. Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath that occur in response to specific triggers are... read more )
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Symptoms of Hypophosphatemia
Symptoms of hypophosphatemia occur only when the phosphate level in blood becomes very low. Muscle weakness develops, followed by stupor, coma, and death.
In mild chronic hypophosphatemia, the bones can weaken, resulting in bone pain and fractures. People may become weak and lose their appetite.
Diagnosis of Hypophosphatemia
Measurement of phosphate levels in the blood
Hypophosphatemia is diagnosed when blood tests show that the level of phosphate in the blood is low. Doctors do other tests to identify the cause if it is not readily apparent.
Treatment of Hypophosphatemia
Increase phosphate intake
Drugs that reduce the phosphate level are stopped.
If hypophosphatemia is mild and causes no symptoms, drinking low-fat or skim milk, which provides a large amount of phosphate, may help. Or people can take phosphate by mouth, but doing so usually causes diarrhea.
If hypophosphatemia is very severe or if phosphate cannot be taken by mouth, phosphate may be given by vein (intravenously).
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