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Hypophosphatemia

Definition

Hypophosphatemia is a low level of phosphorus in the blood.

Alternative Names

Low blood phosphate; Phosphate - low; Hyperparathyroidism - low phosphate

Causes

The following may cause hypophosphatemia:

  • Alcoholism
  • Antacids
  • Certain medicines, including insulin, acetazolamide, foscarnet, imatinib, intravenous iron, niacin, pentamidine, sorafenib, and tenofovir
  • Fanconi syndrome
  • Fat malabsorption in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid gland)
  • Starvation
  • Too little vitamin D

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Bone pain
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness
  • Seizures 

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will examine you.

The following tests may be done:

  • Kidney function tests
  • Vitamin D blood test

Exam and testing may show:

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause. Phosphate can be given by mouth or through a vein (IV).

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well you do depends on what has caused the condition.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have muscle weakness or confusion.

References

Chonchol M, Smogorzewski MJ, Stubbs, JR, Yu ASL. Disorders of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate balance. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 18.

Klemm KM, Klein MJ. Biochemical markers of bone metabolism. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 15.


Review Date: 11/9/2019
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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