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Hypocalcemia (Adult)

Hypocalcemia is too little calcium in the blood. Calcium is a mineral. It helps the heart and other muscles function properly. It’s also needed to develop and maintain strong bones and teeth. Hypocalcemia may be caused by too little calcium or vitamin D in your diet. Or, it may be due to digestive problems, gland problems, kidney or pancreas disease, or low magnesium levels. Too much phosphate in the blood and certain medications can also cause hypocalcemia.

Hypocalcemia can cause the muscles of the face, hands, and feet to spasm (twitch involuntarily). It can also cause numbness or tingling around the mouth or in the hands and feet. Other problems, such as depression and memory loss, can also occur.

A sample of your blood will be taken to check the level of calcium in your body. The test also helps determine if a problem with your parathyroid gland (gland that controls your calcium level) or kidneys is causing hypocalcemia. Depending on the cause, you may be given an oral calcium supplement. In severe cases, an injection of calcium gluconate may be needed. You may also receive a vitamin D supplement or injection. If the cause of your problem is low magnesium, you will have treatment to raise your body’s level of this mineral.

Home care

The doctor may have you take calcium and vitamin D supplements or other medications or minerals. Follow the doctor’s instructions for taking these supplements.

The following are general care guidelines:

  • Take any medications or supplements as instructed.

  • Make diet changes as instructed by your doctor. You may be asked to eat more dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt.

  • Avoid soft drinks (soda pop). Many of these contain phosphates, which can interfere with your ability to absorb calcium. 

  • Try to get out in the sun for at least 20 minutes each day. Exposure to the sun helps your body make vitamin D, which in turn helps you absorb calcium.

Follow-up care

Follow up as advised by the doctor or our staff.

When to seek medical care

Get prompt medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Depression

  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)

  • Muscle cramps, spasms, or twitching

  • Numbness and tingling in the arms, legs, hands, or feet

  • Seizures

 

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