Hypocalcemia is a disorder in which there is a calcium deficiency in the blood. Calcium is an essential mineral that assists in bone strengthening, muscle contraction and proper functioning of the central nervous system. While patients with hypocalcemia may be asymptomatic, the condition can be life-threatening if left untreated. It most commonly occurs in populations where there is insufficient intake of vitamin D or in patients who have undergone a total parathyroidectomy (removal of the parathyroid glands). It may also occur as a congenital condition in infants, particularly those born prematurely or to a diabetic mother, or in infants stressed by illness or infection.
Causes of Hypocalcemia
Aside from complications of a total parathyroidectomy, other causes of hypocalcemia include:
- Dietary deficiency of calcium or vitamin D
- Albumin deficiency
- Magnesium deficiency or excess
Certain glandular or gastrointestinal dysfunctions may also result in hypocalcemia.
Symptoms of Hypocalcemia
In some cases of hypocalcemia, no symptoms are noticeable. Other patients may experience:
- Numbness or a tingling in the extremities
- Muscle spasms or twitches
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Memory problems
- Irritability or depression
Infants with hypocalcemia are frequently asymptomatic. When they do experience symptoms, they range from tremors to seizures, although seizures rarely occur. Infants with hypocalcemia may also have abnormally slow heart rates and low blood pressure.
Diagnosis of Hypocalcemia
Hypocalcemia is often difficult to diagnose because of the complexity of chemical and mineral balances in the body. A diagnosis of hypocalcemia is typically made through blood tests to measure calcium levels. Blood tests may also help to determine the underlying cause of the condition. A bone density test may also be administered to determine whether there is an adequate level of calcium in the bones.
Treatment of Hypocalcemia
Treatment for hypocalcemia may vary depending upon the underlying reason for the condition. Typically, calcium is administered in one of several forms and vitamin D may also be prescribed. Underlying conditions and imbalances must also be carefully managed. Treatment of hypocalcemia is essential because if left untreated, over time it may cause osteoporosis.
For more information about Hypocalcemia, Call Kimberly Rieniets's office at 970-810-4121