Calcium is a mineral needed for bone health, muscle movement, and nerve function. Hypocalcemia is lower than normal levels of calcium in your blood.
Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium from food or supplements. Once in your body, calcium may be stored in the bones or exist in the blood. It may also be excreted through the kidneys. Levels of calcium in the blood are normally regulated by hormones from the parathyroid gland. Hypocalcemia may occur if an illness or medication interferes with this process. The most common cause of hypocalcemia is kidney failure.
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Factors that may interfere with hormones and can lead to hypocalcemia include:
Factors that may decrease your intake of calcium include:
Other factors that may increase your risk of hypocalcemia include:
Early hypocalcemia may not have any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with X-rays.
The electrical activity of your heart may be tested. This can be done with an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
You may be given supplements through an IV or pills. Supplements may include:
Medications may also be given to control the condition causing the problem or to increase the amount of calcium in the blood. Medication options may include:
Your current medications may be changed if they are the cause of your hypocalcemia.
Your doctor may advise you to increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D. You may be referred to a dietitian.
To help reduce your chance of getting hypocalcemia, take these steps:
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
The Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Cooper M, Gittoes N. Diagnosis and management of hypocalcaemia. BMJ. 2008 June 7;336(7656):1298-1302.
Hypocalcemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 7, 2013. Accessed January 8, 2014.
Hypocalcaemia. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Hypocalcaemia.htm. Updated December 14, 2011. Accessed January 8, 2014.
Last reviewed January 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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