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Hypocalcaemia also referred to as low blood calcium levels, is a medical condition that occurs when your body doesn't have enough calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral that plays several important roles in the body. It helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth, assists with the growth of muscles and nerves, regulates the release of hormones and enzymes, promotes proper heart function, supports efficient and healthy blood clotting, ensures normal blood pressure levels, maintains a healthy immune system response, and contributes to fluid balance within the body.
Calcium is also important for the proper function of your cells. The body cannot produce calcium on its own, which is why it's essential to get enough calcium through diet and supplements. Calcium also helps maintain healthy teeth and bones. It's important to get enough calcium during your teen years and early adulthood when your bones are still growing and developing. As you age, your body may not absorb as much calcium from food or supplements.
Causes of Hypocalcemia
There are many different causes of hypocalcemia, some of which are more common than others. Here are 15 of the most common causes of low calcium levels in the blood−
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1. Kidney disease
Kidney disease is one of the most common causes of hypocalcemia. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, they cannot remove calcium from the blood effectively. This can lead to low calcium levels and a variety of symptoms.
2. Liver disease
Liver disease can also lead to hypocalcemia. The liver is responsible for breaking down vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption. When the liver is not functioning properly, vitamin D levels can drop and calcium absorption can be impaired.
Another common factor in the development of hypocalcemia is malabsorption. A condition referred to by this word is an issue with the digestive system that inhibits the body from absorbing nutrients from meals in the correct manner. Because of this, one's body may not get enough of a number of different nutrients, including calcium.
4. Dietary deficiencies
Dietary deficiencies are another common cause of hypocalcemia. If you do not consume enough calcium-rich foods, your body will not have enough calcium to maintain normal levels in the blood. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including muscle cramps and weakness, bone loss, and more.
Certain medications can also cause hypocalcemia. Some of the most common offenders are diuretics, antacids, and certain cancer treatments. If you are taking any of these medications, be sure to speak with your doctor about the potential risks.
6. Parathyroid hormone deficiency
The parathyroid hormone is responsible for regulating calcium levels in the body. If this hormone is not being produced at adequate levels, it can lead to hypocalcemia. This condition is often seen in people with autoimmune diseases or certain types of cancer.
7. Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium and maintain healthy bones. Your body will be unable to absorb calcium effectively if you do not get an adequate amount of vitamin D in your diet. This can result in calcium deficiency, which in turn can cause a number of symptoms.
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8. Magnesium deficiency
Magnesium is another mineral that is essential for calcium absorption. If you do not consume enough amount of magnesium, your body will be unable to absorb calcium in an effective manner. This can result in calcium deficiency, which in turn can cause a number of symptoms.
Pancreatitis is a condition that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. This can interfere with the production of enzymes that are necessary for calcium absorption. This can lead to low calcium levels and a variety of symptoms.
10. Thyroid disorders
Thyroid disorders can also lead to hypocalcemia. The thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolism, and an imbalance can lead to problems with calcium absorption. This can cause low calcium levels and a variety of symptoms.
11. Adrenal insufficiency
Insufficiency of the adrenal glands can lead to a condition known as adrenal insufficiency, which can manifest itself in a number of different ways. This can interfere with the production of hormones that are necessary for calcium absorption. This can lead to low calcium levels and a variety of symptoms.
12. Celiac disease
A condition known as celiac disease is a disorder that impacts the digestive system and makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from the food that it consumes in the correct manner. Because of this, one's body may not get enough of a number of different nutrients, including calcium.
13. Crohn's disease
Malabsorption is a symptom that can be caused by Crohn's disease, which is an illness that affects the digestive system. Because of this, one's body may not get enough of a number of different nutrients, including calcium.
14. Gastrointestinal surgery
Gastrointestinal surgery can also lead to malabsorption and deficiencies in a variety of nutrients, including calcium.
Pregnancy can also cause hypocalcemia. This is due to the fact that the body needs more calcium during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have symptoms of hypocalcemia, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Symptoms of Hypocalcemia
The symptoms of hypocalcemia can be mild or severe and include−
Achy, tingling, numb hands and feet
Painful twitches or cramps in muscles, particularly in the legs
Confusion or drowsiness
The most common treatment for hypocalcemia is supplemental calcium. This can be taken in the form of a supplement, or through foods that are high in calcium. You can look up your specific recommendation online, but you'll typically be given 1,000 to 2,000 mg of calcium per day. If you start feeling worse after you add in more calcium, it may be a sign that your body is already taking in too much. It's important to remember to take only the amount recommended by your doctor so that you don't inadvertently create a different imbalance.
In addition to calcium supplements and/or foods, some people also choose to take vitamin D supplements to help treat hypocalcemia. This can be an effective addition to helping bring your body back into equilibrium.
Despite these treatments, some people experience more severe symptoms when their blood levels of calcium drop too low. In those cases, doctors may recommend that you get treatments with IV fluids and/or use medications like calcitonin which stimulate the production of new bone cells that increase your body's ability to regulate its own levels of calcium.
If all else fails, surgery may be required to remove any damaged tissue from your parathyroid glands or thymus gland. Sometimes, this removal is not permanent and you may need to have surgery again if your symptoms return.
Hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, can be a serious condition. If not treated, it can lead to death. Symptoms of hypocalcemia include muscle cramps, twitching, and seizures. Treatment of hypocalcemia involves replenishing the body's calcium stores. This can be done through diet, supplements, and/or medications.
1. What is hypocalcemia?
Hypocalcemia is a condition where there is a deficiency of calcium in the blood. This can be caused by several different things, but most commonly occurs when the body cannot absorb enough calcium from food.
2. How common is it?
Hypocalcemia is a rare, but serious condition that affects around 1 in every 10,000 people. It usually affects people over 65 years old, but it can affect anyone at any age.
3. What causes hypocalcemia?
Hypocalcemia can be caused by increased losses of calcium from the body (such as through sweating or vomiting), decreased intake of calcium-rich foods like dairy products, or alcoholism-related liver disease. Hypoparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid gland produces too little parathyroid hormone (PTH) which regulates calcium levels in the blood. This leads to low calcium levels, which causes hypocalcemia.
4. How is hypocalcemia diagnosed?
A doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms, medications you're taking and any family history of disorders that affect bone health. Blood tests may also be done to confirm the diagnosis.
5. How does the body use calcium?
The human body contains the highest proportion of calcium of any mineral. It is necessary for the development of healthy bones and teeth as well as their continued maintenance. The body also uses calcium to regulate the heart’s rhythm, promote normal blood clotting, and release hormones, such as adrenaline, that help us respond to stress.
Calcium plays an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation, especially in skeletal muscles. It is also essential for blood clotting (coagulation) and nerve impulses along with many other functions.