Epsom salts - General Information:

A small colorless crystal used as an anticonvulsant, a cathartic, and an electrolyte replenisher in the treatment of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. It causes direct inhibition of action potentials in myometrial muscle cells. Excitation and contraction are uncoupled, which decreases the frequency and force of contractions. (From AMA Drug Evaluations Annual, 1992, p1083)

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Epsom salts - Pharmacology:

Magnesium is the second most plentiful cation of the intracellular fluids. It is essential for the activity of many enzyme systems and plays an important role with regard to neurochemical transmission and muscular excitability. Magnesium sulfate reduces striated muscle contractions and blocks peripheral neuromuscular transmission by reducing acetylcholine release at the myoneural junction. Additionally, Magnesium inhibits Ca2+ influx through dihydropyridine-sensitive, voltage-dependent channels. This accounts for much of its relaxant action on vascular smooth muscle.

Epsom salts for patients

Possible Adverse Effects

  1. ECG changes (prolongation of the atrio-ventricular conduction time, sinoatrial block and atrio-ventricular block).
  2. Circulatory collapse, hypotension.
  3. Gastro intestinal disturbances (diarrhoea, abdominal distension, absence of bowel sounds).
  4. Urinary retention.
  5. CNS depression (central sedation, muscle relaxation, hyporeflexia and decreased excitability).
  6. Calcium and potassium disturbances.
  7. Respiratory depression.

Special Considerations

  1. Anticipate change in calcium and phosphorus balance.
  2. Drug interaction has been reported between magnesium sulphate and gentamicin (respiratory arrest).
  3. Monitor serum magnesium and calcium levels.
  4. Antidote for hypermagnesaemia is calcium gluconate.

Epsom salts Interactions

Epsom salts Contraindications

Magnesium sulfate should not be administered parenterally in patients with heart block or myocardial damage.

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