Hypocalcemia (Adult)

Hypocalcemia is too little calcium in the blood. Calcium is a mineral. It helps the heart and other muscles work well. It’s also needed to grow and maintain strong bones and teeth.

Hypocalcemia may be caused by:

  • Lack of calcium or vitamin D in your diet

  • Digestive problems

  • Gland problems

  • Kidney or pancreas disease

  • Low magnesium levels

  • Too much phosphate in your blood

  • Certain medicines

Hypocalcemia can cause the muscles of the face, hands, and feet to twitch without your control (spasm). It can also cause numbness or tingling around your mouth or in your hands and feet. Other problems may include depression and memory loss.

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

Home care

Your healthcare provider may have you take calcium and vitamin D supplements, or other medicines or minerals. Follow your provider’s instructions for taking these supplements.

General care

  • Take any medicines or supplements as directed.

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

  • Avoid drinking sodas. Many of these have phosphates. These can interfere with your ability to absorb calcium. 

  • Try to get out in the sun for at least 20 minutes each day. Sun exposure helps your body make vitamin D. This helps you absorb calcium.

Follow-up care

Follow up as advised by your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Depression

  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)

  • Muscle cramps, spasms, or twitching

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

  • Seizures

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© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.