High phosphorus level

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High phosphorus level

Question

What causes a high phosphorus level in the blood?

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Answer

The most common cause of elevated phosphorus levels (hyperphosphatemia) in the blood is decreased kidney function. Rarely, it's caused by excess intake of phosphorus or vitamin D, which increases absorption of phosphorus from the small intestine. It's important to note that children normally have higher blood levels of phosphorus than adults do.

In your body, phosphorus exists almost exclusively as phosphate. Most of your body's phosphate is stored in your cells and not in your blood. So blood level gives only a partial indication of your total body phosphate (phosphorus). Your body absorbs phosphorus mainly from your small intestine. Excess phosphorus is normally excreted by your kidneys.

Another uncommon cause of elevated phosphorus levels is an increased shift in phosphate from your cells to your blood. This may occur with certain conditions, such as:

  • Breakdown of red blood cells (hemolysis)
  • Excessive acids in body fluids (acute acidosis)
  • Breakdown of muscle cells (rhabdomyolysis)

Hyperphosphatemia typically causes no symptoms. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause.

Last Updated: 06/23/2005
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