The medical term for low levels of calcium in the blood is referred to as hypocalcemia. Calcium is a salt mineral that helps many body systems. Important functions of calcium include helping to regulate heart, blood vessel and muscular contractions. Some individuals suffer from chronic hypocalcemia while others experience the condition as a side effect from a separate medical condition. The condition varies from mild to life-threatening. The symptoms of hypocalcemia may vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the condition. Some individuals may be asymptomatic in the early stages of hypocalcemia.
Low levels of calcium may cause abnormalities in the heart and blood vessels. A common symptom of hypocalcemia is low blood pressure. Individuals with severe hypocalcemia can also experience congestive heart failure or weakening and inflammation of the heart muscle. Babies who have a low calcium level, usually from being born prematurely, might experience a slower than normal heart rate and low blood pressure, as well.
Nervous System Symptoms
As the condition progresses and the levels of calcium in the blood decrease, an individual may begin to experience confusion, depression and forgetfulness. Additional neurological symptoms include memory loss, hallucinations and disorientation. They might have tingling, a feeling of pins and needles in the fingers, lips, tongue and feet. In severe cases of untreated hypocalcemia, seizures are possible. Infants with hypocalcemia may experience seizures, but though it is a rare occurrence.
Muscular System Symptoms
Hypocalcemia creates problems with the muscular system. An individual may experience stiffness or spasms in the skeletal muscles of the body. Cramping is common in the legs and arms. The muscles can also ache. A more severe form of muscle spasms may occur in the throat, causing the individual to experience breathing difficulties. The smooth muscles of internal organs can become irritable and cause conditions such as spasms in the lungs and irritation of the gallbladder. Babies experiencing symptoms of hypocalcemia might experience tremors or muscular twitching.
Skin and Eye Symptoms
The condition also affects the skin. Hypocalcemia can cause dry skin as well as an increase in outbreaks of eczema or psoriasis. The hair might become brittle or fall out. The individual may also develop cataracts or a swelling of the optic disc. Decreased vision occurs with each of these conditions.
- Canadian Family Physician: Hypocalcemia
- ISRN Surgery: Predictors of Hypocalcemia after Thyroidectomy: Results from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample
- Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism: Infants with Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Hypocalcemia
- The Journal of Family Practice: What is the Best Workup for Hypocalcemia?