Management of hypophosphatemia

Clin Pharm. 1988 Feb;7(2):123-8.


The etiology, clinical presentation, and management of hypophosphatemia are reviewed. Phosphorus is a major intracellular anion and plays an important role in many biochemical pathways relating to normal physiologic functions. Approximately 60 to 90% of the 1 to 1.5 g of daily dietary phosphorus intake is absorbed, and of that amount, about two thirds is excreted in the urine. The overall incidence of hypophosphatemia is about 2 to 3% of all hospitalized patients. Factors associated with hypophosphatemia include phosphate-binding antacid therapy, nasogastric suction, liver disease, sepsis, alcoholism, and acidosis associated with diabetic ketoacidosis. Patients receiving parenteral nutrient solutions were also at higher risk for hypophosphatemia before the routine supplementation of these formulations with phosphate. Patients with hypophosphatemia may be asymptomatic or may experience weakness, malaise, anorexia, bone pain, and respiratory arrest. The major systems involved include the neuromuscular, hematologic, and skeletal systems. Phosphorus-containing products used to treat hypophosphatemia are a combination of monobasic and dibasic phosphate salts. Therefore, it is essential to calculate doses in millimoles rather than milligrams or milliequivalents to more accurately reflect the phosphorus concentration and to avoid potentially serious dosage errors. Normal daily requirements are readily maintained by dietary sources of phosphorus such as milk products or may be supplemented by phosphate-containing products administered orally or intravenously. Since phosphorus is a key factor in many organ systems, it is essential to monitor serum phosphorus concentrations in patients at risk for hypophosphatemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Phosphates / blood*


  • Phosphates