Your body uses calcium to build strong bones and teeth. Your nervous system needs calcium to relay messages between your brain and the rest of your body. It is also needed for your heart and other muscles to function properly. In short, Calcium, in a specific quantity, is always required by your body. Lower-than-average levels of calcium in the liquid part of the blood, or the plasma leads to a disease called hypocalcemia. Hypocalcemia may be the result of low calcium production or insufficient calcium circulation in your body.
Severe symptoms of hypocalcemia include:
- muscle cramps
- numbnessand tingling in the hands, feet, and face
- confusionor memory loss
- muscle spasms
- weak and brittle nails
- easy fracturingof the bones
Causes of hypocalcemia
Some causes of hypocalcemia are
- insufficient calcium or vitamin D in your diet , leading to their deficiency in your body
- kidney disease
- intense exercise
- medications (such as phenytoin (Dilantin), phenobarbital, and rifampin )
- stress and anxiety
- phosphate infusion
- calcium channel blocker overdose
- tumor lysis syndrome
- diabetes in the mother, in the case of infants
- irregular magnesium levels
- diarrhea, constipation, or other intestinal disorders that inhibit the absorption of calcium in your body
- A spreading cancer
- Crohn disease
- Loop diureticuse
- High level of lactic acidin the blood
People with a vitamin D or magnesium deficiency are at a higher risk of hypocalcemia than others. Other risk factors include:
- a history of gastrointestinal disorders running in the family
- anxiety disorders
- Renal failure
- liver failure
- children born to diabetic mothers
The first step in diagnosis of hypocalcemia is a blood test to determine your calcium levels. Your doctor may also use mental and physical exams to test for any signs of hypocalcemia.
- A physical exam may include a study of your muscles, hair and skin.
- A mental exam may include tests for confusion, Irritability, dementia, hallucinations and seizures.
Your doctor may also test for Chvostek’s (a twitching response when a set of facial nerves is tapped) and Trousseau’s (a spasm in the hands or feet that comes from ischemia, or a restriction in blood supply to tissues) signs, which are both linked to hypocalcemia. Twitching or spasms are considered positive responses to these tests and suggest neuromuscular excitability due to hypocalcemia.
Some cases of hypocalcemia go away without any treatment while other cases are severe and can even be life-threatening. Initial treatment for severe Hypocalcemia is done with intravenous calcium chloride and possibly magnesium sulfate. Other treatments might also include vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium supplements. If the cause of the disease is Hypoparathyroidism, your doctor may recommend you hydrochlorothiazide, phosphate binders, and a low salt diet.
These calcium supplements are commonly recommended by the doctors
- calcium carbonate (least expensive and has the most elemental calcium)
- calcium citrate (most easily absorbed)
- calcium phosphate (easily absorbed and doesn’t cause constipation)
Calcium deficiency is usually easy to treat. It typically involves adding more calcium to your diet. Your dietician might recommend you a calcium-rich diet plan to assist in restoring the calcium levels in the body. Calcium supplements are easily available in market in liquid, tablet, and chewable forms.
Vitamin D levels can be increased by spending time in the sun. The amount of sun needed is different for everyone (Don’t forget to apply sunscreen before going out in sun).Vitamin D supplements are also easily available in the market.
Do not try to treat yourself by taking a lot of calcium supplements. Taking more than the recommended dose (without your doctor’s approval) can lead to serious issues like kidney stones.