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Hypocalcemia (Calcium Deficiency Disease):Understanding the Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions


Hypocalcemia, often referred to as low blood calcium levels, is a medical condition that can have significant implications for one’s health.

Calcium is a vital mineral, not only for strong bones and teeth but also for various essential bodily functions.

In this blog, we will delve into the causes, symptoms and treatment options for hypocalcemia, shedding light on the importance of maintaining the right balance of this crucial nutrient in our bodies.

What is Hypocalcemia?

Hypocalcemia is a manageable medical condition that occurs when the concentration of calcium in your bloodstream falls below normal levels.

Numerous underlying health issues can lead to hypocalcemia, often stemming from irregular levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) or vitamin D in your system. The severity of hypocalcemia can vary, and it may be either a temporary or a persistent (lifelong) condition.

What Are the Symptoms of Hypocalcemia?

People with mild hypocalcemia may be asymptomatic. The severity of symptoms varies. Mild hypocalcemia symptoms include:

  • Muscle cramps, particularly in the back and legs.
  • Dry, scaly skin.
  • Brittle nails.
  • Increased coarse hair growth.

Left untreated, hypocalcemia can lead to neurological or psychological symptoms such as:

  • Confusion.
  • Memory problems.
  • Irritability or restlessness.
  • Depression.
  • Hallucinations.

Severe hypocalcemia presents more serious symptoms like:

  • Tingling in lips, tongue, fingers, and feet.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Throat muscle spasms (laryngospasm).
  • Muscular stiffening and spasms (tetany).
  • Seizures.
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia).
  • Congestive heart failure

You Can Also Read:  7 Ways You Can Lower Triglycerides

What Are the Causes of Hypocalcemia?

Hypocalcemia stems from various factors and health conditions. Key contributors include parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamin D imbalances, affecting calcium regulation.

The common causes of hypocalcemia are: 


  • Inadequate PTH production due to parathyroid gland issues.
  • Can be inherited or result from surgery on the parathyroid or thyroid glands.

Vitamin D deficiency:

  • Insufficient vitamin D for proper calcium absorption.
  • Causes include inherited disorders, lack of sunlight, or dietary deficiencies.

Kidney failure (renal failure):

  • Linked to elevated blood phosphorus and decreased vitamin D production.

Some other contributors to hypocalcemia are:

  • Certain medications: Bisphosphonates, corticosteroids, and others may induce hypocalcemia.
  • Pseudohypoparathyroidism: An inherited disorder affecting PTH responsiveness.
  • Hypomagnesemia: Low magnesium levels hinder PTH production and lower calcium levels.
  • Pancreatitis: 15-88% of acute pancreatitis cases lead to hypocalcemia.
  • Rare genetic disorders: Genetic mutations, like DiGeorge syndrome, can trigger hypocalcemia.

How is Hypocalcemia Diagnosed?

Hypocalcemia, with blood calcium < 8.8 mg/dL, may be discovered incidentally. Diagnosis via a blood test is essential, but equally significant is uncovering the underlying cause for effective management.

To identify the source of your hypocalcemia or to make sure it isn’t harming other areas of your body, your healthcare provider could carry out the following tests or procedures:

  • Other blood tests: Measuring magnesium, phosphorus, parathyroid hormone (PTH), and vitamin D levels.
  • EKG (electrocardiogram): Detecting abnormal heart rhythms associated with hypocalcemia.
  • Bone imaging tests: Examining bone health, looking for conditions like osteomalacia or rickets.

What is the Treatment For Hypocalcemia?

The treatment options for hypocalcemia include:

  1. Oral calcium supplements – Commonly used to restore normal calcium levels.
  2. Vitamin D supplement – Often taken alongside calcium pills to enhance calcium absorption, especially for chronic hypocalcemia.
  3. Synthetic PTH (parathyroid hormone) – Prescribed for hypoparathyroidism-related hypocalcemia.
  4. Calcium gluconate – Administered in severe cases with muscle cramps or spasms (tetany) in a hospital setting.

Additionally, it’s essential to address the underlying cause of hypocalcemia: 

  • Treating the root cause is as crucial as addressing the low calcium levels.
  • Medications contributing to hypocalcemia may be adjusted or changed by your healthcare provider.

What Are the Preventive Measures for Hypocalcemia?

Preventive measures for hypocalcemia involve a combination of dietary adjustments, vitamin intake, managing underlying conditions, and lifestyle choices:

  • Diet: Consume calcium-rich foods like dairy, leafy greens, and fortified items. Consider calcium supplements if necessary.
  • Vitamin D: Ensure adequate intake through sunlight exposure, fatty fish, fortified foods, or supplements.
  • Manage underlying conditions: Effectively treat conditions like hypoparathyroidism, chronic kidney disease, or malabsorption disorders.
  • Medications: Be cautious of medications that may affect calcium levels; consult a healthcare provider for adjustments.
  • Limit loss: Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption to prevent calcium loss.
  • Hydration: Maintain proper hydration levels to prevent concentrated blood calcium.
  • Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, especially weight-bearing exercises.
  • Check-ups: Regular medical check-ups help monitor calcium levels and detect early signs.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can reduce calcium absorption, so quitting is advisable.

Personalised advice is essential, so consult a healthcare professional for tailored guidance and treatment.

You Can Also Read: The Safe Way to Lighten Skin: Reducing Melanin Production Without Risking Your Health

What Are the Complications Associated With Untreated Hypocalcemia? 

Untreated hypocalcemia, characterised by low blood calcium levels, can lead to various complications:

  • Neuromuscular symptoms: Muscle cramps, numbness, tingling, weakness, and involuntary contractions (tetany).
  • Bone issues: Osteopenia, osteoporosis, and increased fracture risk.
  • Cardiac problems: Arrhythmias and prolonged QT interval on ECG.
  • Neurological complications: Seizures, confusion, irritability, and memory problems.
  • Dermatological symptoms: Dry skin, brittle nails, and hair issues.
  • Chvostek’s and Trousseau’s signs: Facial muscle twitching and hand/foot spasms.
  • Dental problems: Tooth decay due to calcium’s role in dental health.
  • Long-term complications: Kidney stones and kidney damage if untreated for a while.

Severe, untreated hypocalcemia can be life-threatening, necessitating prompt medical attention and calcium supplementation to address underlying causes.

When Should You Seek Medical Attention for Hypocalcemia?

Seek medical attention for hypocalcemia if you experience:

  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Tetany (muscle contractions, seizures, difficulty breathing)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abnormal heart rhythm or palpitations
  • Changes in mental state
  • Bone pain or fractures
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Prolonged or worsening symptoms

Low calcium levels can result from various causes, so it’s crucial to:

  • To get an accurate diagnosis, speak with a medical professional.
  • Consider underlying conditions or medications that may affect calcium levels.
  • Receive regular monitoring if at risk.
  • Understand that treatment depends on the underlying cause.
  • Never self-diagnose or self-treat; seek medical advice promptly for a thorough evaluation and appropriate management.


Hypocalcemia is a complex medical condition that demands careful monitoring and prompt treatment. Understanding its causes, symptoms, and management is crucial for ensuring optimal health and well-being. It is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced dietitian. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a dietitian, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment at the CK Birla Hospital.


What is Hypocalcemia and Why is Calcium Important for the Body?

Hypocalcemia is low blood calcium levels, leading to muscle and nerve problems. Calcium is vital for bone health, muscle function, nerve transmission, blood clotting, and various biochemical processes in the body.

What Are the Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency?

Common signs of calcium deficiency include muscle cramps, twitching, numbness, brittle nails, and weakened bones, potentially leading to osteoporosis or tetany (muscle spasms and seizures).

How Can I Tell if I Am at Risk for Hypocalcemia?

Risk factors for hypocalcemia include inadequate dietary calcium, certain medical conditions (kidney disease, thyroid issues), medications (diuretics), and surgeries (thyroidectomy). For a customised evaluation, speak with a medical expert.

What Dietary Sources Are Rich in Calcium to Prevent Deficiency?

Dairy products (milk, cheese), leafy greens (spinach), fortified foods (orange juice, cereals) and almonds are rich dietary sources of calcium to prevent deficiency.

Are There Specific Treatments Available for Hypocalcemia?

Treatment for hypocalcemia depends on its cause. It may involve calcium supplements, vitamin D, addressing underlying conditions, or adjusting medications. Seek advice from a medical expert for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

How Often Should I Get My Calcium Levels Checked?

The frequency of calcium level checks depends on individual health factors and risk factors. Generally, it’s recommended to discuss with a healthcare provider for personalised guidance on testing intervals.

What Are the Potential Complications of Untreated Hypocalcemia?

Untreated hypocalcemia can lead to muscle spasms, seizures, osteoporosis, heart rhythm abnormalities, and neuromuscular issues, affecting overall health and quality of life. Early treatment is crucial.

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