Hypocalcemia: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment
The calcium It is a fundamental mineral for our body. It becomes, in fact, the most abundant mineral that we find in the human body, although those that contain it in greater quantity are both bones and teeth. However, did you know that calcium, blood, neurons, body tissues and also other liquids present in our body also contain calcium?
Among other important functions, it is fundamental for the development of strong bones and teeth, for the adequate coagulation of the blood, for the relaxation and contraction of the muscles, for the sending and receiving of the different nervous signals, for the secretion of certain chemicals and hormones, as well as for a normal heart rate.
We find calcium especially in dairy products (such as milk, yogurt, cheese and buttermilk), which become the best source. But there are also other sources of calcium, such as green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, Chinese cabbage and turnips), certain fish (salmon and canned sardines), dried vegetables and nuts (sunflower seeds and nuts). from Brazil).
What is hypocalcemia? What does it consist of?
We could define the hypocalcemia like a disease in which blood calcium levels are decreased, below its normal values. That is, we are facing an electrolyte imbalance, consisting of the presence of low levels of calcium in the blood.
Calcium values are considered normal in adults between 4.5 to 5.5 mEq / L, or 8.5 to 10.2 mg / dL.
In case of decreased calcium values in the blood, the doctor may evaluate the possibility of analyzing the values of albumin, so that if it is also low it is very important that the calcium level must be corrected (which will be higher if the albumin is low).
What symptoms does it produce?
Since calcium is directly related to the function of nerves and muscles, one of the most common symptoms of hypocalcemia is the appearance of a neuromuscular irritability, causing fasciculations or spasms. Hence, it usually produces symptoms mainly at the bone, nervous and muscular levels.
But the symptoms depend on the speed at which the decrease in calcium levels in the blood occurs. Thus, for example, when hypocalcemia has been around for some time, there may be no symptoms, only mild signs such as stinging or numbness in the fingers (the same occurs when the calcium values are slightly low).
Common are muscle pains, as well as having the tingling sensation in the hands, feet and mouth.
In addition, signs such as shortness of breath and palpitations accompanied by irregular contractions, and may even produce disorientation, delusions and hallucinations, especially when the blood calcium values are very low.
What are your causes?
There are many causes that can directly and indirectly influence the decrease in calcium levels in the blood. The most common are the existence of certain nutritional deficits, such as vitamin D or magnesium. Or for unhealthy habits like consuming alcoholic beverages.
It may be due to other more serious and serious causes, such as the existence of chronic renal failure, certain types of blood disorders or leukemia, and tumor lysis syndrome (when chemotherapy treatment rapidly breaks tumor cells).
It can also be produced by other causes, such as the consumption of certain medications (diuretics, estrogens, glucose, insulin, laxatives) or by treatments such as bisphosphonates.
How is it treated?
Medical treatment depends both on the cause of the hypocalcemia and on the degree. For example, it depends on whether it is an acute hypocalcemia that appears quickly, if it is chronic or if it is accompanied by low levels of magnesium in the blood:
- Acute hypocalcemia: consists of the administration of calcium intravenously.
- Chronic hypocalcemia: oral administration of calcium and vitamin D supplements
- Hypomagnesemia: consists of the presence of low levels of magnesium in blood. It is treated by administering magnesium intravenously.