Hypocalcemia

What is hypocalcemia?

Hypocalcemia is a low level of calcium in your blood. It occurs when your body loses too much calcium or does not absorb enough from the foods you eat.

What causes hypocalcemia?

  • Lack of vitamin D in your foods or limited exposure to sunlight

  • Low hormone levels or a poor immune system

  • Medical conditions, such as Celiac disease, pancreatitis, and kidney or liver disease

  • Certain medicines, such as medicines to prevent seizures

What are the signs and symptoms of hypocalcemia?

  • Tingling in your hands, feet, or lips

  • Muscle spasms or weakness, or facial twitching

  • Shaking or loss of body control

  • Seizures

  • Slow or uneven heartbeat, or lightheadedness

  • Anxiety, depression, anger, or confusion

  • Seeing or hearing things that are not really there

How is hypocalcemia diagnosed?

Your caregiver will ask about your signs, symptoms, and the medicines you take. He may gently tap on your cheeks to see if your facial muscles twitch. You will also need blood tests to check your calcium, magnesium, and hormone levels.

How is hypocalcemia treated?

Calcium will be given to bring your levels back to normal. This may be given as a pill or IV. You may also need vitamin D or medicines to prevent bone loss.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Eat foods rich in calcium. Foods that contain calcium include milk, yogurt, cereals, and cheese. Leafy green vegetables, oranges, canned salmon, shrimp, and peanuts also contain calcium. Do not have caffeine or alcohol. These can slow your body's ability to absorb calcium. You may need to meet with a dietitian to help plan the best meals for you.

  • Get safe amounts of sunlight. You may need to expose your skin to more sunlight if your body lacks vitamin D. Ask your caregiver how to safely expose yourself to UV light if you need it.

  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases the amount of calcium that leaves your body through your urine. Ask your caregiver for information if you need help quitting.

When should I contact my caregiver?

  • You have dry skin and brittle nails.

  • Your symptoms do not go away, or they get worse.

  • You feel depressed, anxious, angry, or confused.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have a seizure.

  • You have a slow or uneven heartbeat and feel lightheaded.

  • You see or hear things that are not really there.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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