What is Hypophosphatemia?

Hypophosphatemia is a condition where phosphate levels in the blood are below normal. Phosphate is important for many vital functions in the body, including growth and development of bones and teeth, muscle contraction, energy production and metabolism, nerve impulse transmission, and maintenance of acid-base balance.

Hypophosphatemia can be caused by several medical conditions, including diabetes, kidney problems, and alcohol abuse, as well as certain medications. It can also occur in people who are malnourished, especially those who use certain tube-feeding formulas or who limit their intake of milk or dairy products. Symptoms of hypophosphatemia include muscle weakness, irritability, confusion, and difficulty walking.

Causes of Hypophosphatemia

Hypophosphatemia is usually caused by one of three things:

  • An inadequate phosphate intake, either through diet or from tube feeding
  • Decreased absorption of phosphate from the intestine, such as in renal failure or certain drugs
  • Increased renal excretion of phosphate, such as in endocrine disorders, alcohol abuse, or certain drugs

Treatment for Hypophosphatemia

Treatment of hypophosphatemia depends upon the underlying condition. In most cases, increasing phosphate intake through diet or supplementation can help to correct the deficiency. In cases caused by decreased absorption or increased excretion, the underlying condition may need to be addressed. In cases of severe hypophosphatemia, intravenous phosphate may be required.

In addition, people with hypophosphatemia may need to take certain medications, such as diuretics or corticosteroids, to help correct the deficiency. It may also be necessary to restrict alcohol or limit certain nutrients, such as potassium and phosphorus, that could worsen the condition.