Hypocalcaemia is an electrolyte disturbance characterised by low levels of calcium in the blood. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and this condition can be an indicator of a variety of medical problems.
Common causes include parathyroid malfunction, vitamin D deficiency, and too much or too little magnesium, a mineral the body needs to process calcium. Hypocalcaemia can also be a complication of liver and kidney diseases, eating disorders, alcoholism, pancreatitis, and, in infants, prematurity and low birth weight.
Signs that you have hypocalcaemia can include sensations of numbness or tingling; dry or coarse skin, nails and hair; psoriasis; muscle cramps; shortness of breath; muscle spasms or twitching; and depression or irritability.
Severe hypocalcaemia can result in high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, seizures, hallucinations and dementia, heart attacks, and even death. The condition causing the low calcium levels, however, is often as dangerous and deadly as the hypocalcaemia itself.
Depending on the cause of your hypocalcaemia, your doctor may treat it with infusions of electrolyte supplements, vitamin D or calcium. If the condition is due to hypoparathyroidism, you may have to take hormone therapy for life.
Because the causes are numerous and complicated, it may take consultation with several specialists, in addition to your primary case physician, to arrive at an effective treatment plan. For example, you may need to see an endocrinologist, an internist, a vascular specialist and a nutritionist.