Nationwide Magnesium Sulfate Shortage May Affect Migraineurs
Magnesium sulfate is a drug used in physician and hospital settings for several health conditions. Some of these health conditions are life threatening, others are not. One of these conditions is Migraine, especially Status Migraine.
A nationwide shortage of magnesium sulfate has occurred over the past months leaving physicians, hospitals and emergency personnel concerned about their dwindling supplies. The FDA keeps track of medication shortages and their website indicates that the reasons for the shortage include an increased demand as well as manufacturing delays. Not many other specific details are given.
Migraine patients most often come into contact with magnesium sulfate if they have gone to their doctor or an Emergency Department to abort an existing Migraine attack.
Magnesium sulfate is a liquid solution that is usually given to Migraineurs mixed with an IV solution.
It has several actions within the body including playing important roles in how enzymes work as well as brain chemical transmission. It also works by relaxing muscles throughout the body. This includes the muscles that line sensitive blood vessels in the brain and around nerve tissue. Magnesium is also thought to have a helpful depressant affect on how the central nervous system functions.
If the Migraine patient’s system is already depressed due to Migraine rescue or pain medication, magnesium can sometimes be contraindicated, as it tends to add depressant symptoms to any other medications already on board during infusion.
Magnesium’s effect on muscles includes the heart, and too much magnesium may result in several symptoms that may include decreased blood pressure.
Too much magnesium in an infusion may be counteracted with an infusion of calcium, because calcium and magnesium bind together in the body and are flushed from the system.
Migraineurs are frequently found to be deficient in magnesium, leading many doctors to believe that an imbalance in magnesium may trigger Migraine attacks. In many patients, an infusion of magnesium sulfate will abort the attack.
With the news that Medication Overuse Headache can be precipitated by the use of other abortive, rescues and pain medications, as well as the problem physicians perceive of drug seeking on the part of the Migraine patients they encounter, magnesium has been placed on many hospital’s lists as their Migraine protocol/treatment of choice.
With news of this nationwide shortage, Migraineurs may find it difficult or even impossible to find appropriate magnesium treatment even in an emergency department situation.
There is no easy solution to a shortage of magnesium sulfate. Hospitals and physicians may find it difficult to prescribe this medication to a Migraine patient in fear that another more life threatening condition might enter their department before they have a chance to replenish their dwindling supplies. This could potentially make treatment and life for the Migraineur — already difficult at best — even more challenging.
If you are a Migraineur who has frequent need for magnesium sulfate infusions to abort their attacks, there are a few things you can do to help yourself:
- Begin a conversation with your physician, inquiring into the possibility of pre-ordering your magnesium so it will be on hand if needed.
- Ask your doctor if at-home infusions of magnesium sulfate might be an option. When this is the case, maintaining a small supply at home might be an option.
- Before going to the Emergency Department, try contacting them and inquiring about their supply of magnesium. If they indicate they are out, this saves you time in locating one that may still have some left at their disposal.
- Try asking your physician for a prescription for magnesium sulfate IV should you need to visit the ER. Reluctant staff may be more likely to allow you a dose of their precious supply if your doctor has already indicated that it is likely to be helpful to you.
Please understand, there are good reasons why you may not be able to get magnesium sulfate right now. While Migraine is debilitating and can — in rare instances — be fatal, it is much less likely to cause death than other diseases and disorders for which magnesium may be the best or only treatment.
Note: Magnesium sulfate solution contains aluminum which may become toxic if used in an incorrect setting, too frequently or over too long a period of time — a fact with which most Migrianeurs are not familiar.