This is a health condition when an individual experiences a decreased calcium level in the blood (it does not mean in your bones). A person notices symptoms depending on how mild or severe this condition is. In most cases, hypocalcemia is a treatable condition but it may be chronic because it depends on the cause. Several health conditions can provoke this disease.

What is Hypocalcemia?

Commonly, abnormal levels of vitamin D or parathyroid hormone (PTH) are the main causes of hypocalcemia. This disease can be mild, severe, temporary, or chronic (lifelong).


This is one of the most important minerals in our bodies. Although most calcium is stored in the bones, it is needed in your blood. It helps your nerves work, muscles squeeze together, and properly work of heart. If you experience low calcium levels in the blood, it may negatively affect your body’s ability to perform these functions. In addition, calcium in the bones helps to strengthen them. In case you do not consume enough calcium, your body may take this mineral from your bones, which can weaken them.

Furthermore, two hormones keep under control your calcium levels in the blood and bones (PTH and calcitonin). Additionally, vitamin D also plays a crucial role in maintaining calcium levels because vitamin D helps to absorb this mineral.

Who can get this condition?

This health condition affects people of different ages including infants. Hypocalcemia may occur in an infant due to a genetic disorder.

It is not clear how common this disease is because it usually appears as a side effect of another health condition. However, hypocalcemia is more common in those who have removed the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy).


Most patients who experience mild hypocalcemia usually have symptoms. Check below some examples:

Mild Hypocalcemia

  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry and scaly skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Coarse hair (more than usual)

Severe Hypocalcemia

Extremely low levels of calcium in the blood may provoke the following symptoms. Examples include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Seizures
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
  • Muscle stiffness or spasms
  • Laryngospasm
  • Tingling in your tongue, fingers, feet, or lips

In case you are not treating this condition it may lead to some neurological or psycholigic symptoms. For example:


Several functions and factors are involved to maintain a healthy calcium level. That’s why some health conditions can cause low levels of calcium in the blood and body. In most cases, hypocalcemia occurs due to PTH or vitamin D deficiency. Check below three common causes of hypocalcemia:

  • Hypoparathyroidism – It occurs when small glands behind your thyroid gland do not produce enough parathyroid hormone. Decreased levels of PTH provoke low levels of calcium in the blood.
  • Vitamin D Deficiency – This vitamin helps to absorb calcium properly and a lack of vitamin D causes decreased calcium levels in your blood and body.
  • Kidney Failure (Renal Failure) – Low calcium levels in chronic failure are caused by increased levels of phosphorus in the blood.

Furthermore, this disease may occur due to other health conditions. Examples include:

  • Medicines – corticosteroids, bisphosphonates, rifampin, calcitonin, chloroquine, cinacalcet, Denosumab, foscarnet, plicamycin, and others.
  • Hypomagnesemia – It occurs when magnesium levels are too low. In addition, parathyroid glands need magnesium to release PTH. Thus, low PTH causes hypocalcemia.
  • Pancreatitis – 15% to 88% of people who experience acute pancreatitis have hypocalcemia.
  • Pseudo Hypoparathyroidism – This disease is an inherited disorder that provokes low levels of calcium in the blood and body.
  • Rare Genetic Disorders – In case a person experiences genetic mutations (including DiGeorge syndrome) also may experience low levels of calcium in the blood.


If your serum (blood) calcium concentration is less than 8.8 mg/dL, you have hypocalcemia. This test is used in most cases if your physician supposes you have low calcium levels. Additionally, healthcare providers may perform the following tests to identify if you have hypocalcemia or not. For example:

  • Other Blood Tests – Your physician may do more blood tests to verify if you have low levels of magnesium, parathyroid hormone (PTH), vitamin D, or increased phosphorus.
  • EKG or ECG (Electrocardiogram) – This test helps to measure your heart rhythm with electrodes attached to your chest. Hence, abnormal heart rhythm may occur if you have low calcium levels in the blood.
  • Bone Imaging Tests – In case you have low calcium levels in the bones, doctors may perform osteomalacia or rickets.


Commonly, oral calcium supplements are enough to treat hypocalcemia. However, it depends on the severity of the disease you experience, your age, pre-existing conditions, response to treatment, and other factors. Check below treatments and medicines used in the treatment of hypocalcemia:

  • Oral Calcium Pills – These are supplements that usually help to restore calcium levels in the blood.
  • Vitamin D Supplement – If you experience hypocalcemia due to vitamin D deficiency, your healthcare professional may prescribe some vitamin D supplements. This vitamin helps to absorb calcium properly.
  • Synthetic form of Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) – This form of PTH is used in patients who suffer from this disease due to decreased parathyroid hormone.
  • IV Calcium Gluconate – In severe cases of hypoglycemia, you may experience muscle cramps or spasms (tetany) and your physician may give you IV calcium gluconate in the hospital.
  • Other Medications – These medicines are used to treat other health conditions that provoke hypocalcemia.

How to Prevent Hypocalcemia?

However, it is not possible to prevent this condition. You can add in your diet foods and drinks that contain calcium but a lack of calcium in your diet usually does not affect your levels of calcium in the blood.

Check below some risk factors:

  • Genetic mutations such as genetic vitamin D disorder or DiGeorge syndrome
  • Thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid gland by surgery)
  • Parathyroid Gland Surgery
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Managing these risk factors may help to prevent or avoid this disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will I have hypocalcemia?

It depends on the severity of the hypocalcemia you experience. Some chronic cases may be lifelong. However, ask your doctor if you have any questions.

Can I die from hypocalcemia?

Rarely, if you are not treating this condition it may become life-threatening. Early diagnosis and treatment may help to prevent further health problems. Contact a doctor if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.

Can low calcium levels cause weight gain?

A diet deficient in calcium usually is associated with weight gain but some data suggests that an increase in calcium in your diet may help to decrease weight, fat gain, or enhance loss. Discuss with your healthcare professional for more details.

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