Hypocalcemia (Adult)

Hypocalcemia is when there is not enough calcium in the body. 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 disease

  • 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 intravenous (IV) 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. They may prescribe other medicines or minerals. Follow your provider’s instructions for taking these.

General care

  • Take any medicines or supplements as directed.

  • Make diet changes as instructed. You may be asked to eat more dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Nondairy foods that contain calcium include fortified soy milk, fortified cereals, canned salmon with bones, or dark leafy greens such as collard greens, kale, and spinach.

  • Don't drink sodas. Many of these have phosphates. These can make it harder for your body to absorb calcium. 

  • Try to get out in the sun for at least 20 minutes each day. Sun on the skin 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 get 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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