Signs and symptoms of Hypocalcemia

We often see commercials advertising milk products and even calcium supplements. We even try some since it has been known to us that Calcium is a vital mineral which helps stabilize blood pressure as well as build strong bones and teeth. But do we really understand what it means when one has calcium deficiency? Moreover, what should one look out for when he/she is suspecting calcium deficiency disease? Here is an easy way in identifying the signs and symptoms of hypocalcemia.

When suspecting hypocalcemia, remember: CATS

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C – Convulsions

Convulsion is a sudden, violent, irregular movement of a limb or of the body, caused by involuntary contraction of muscles and associated especially with brain disorders such as epilepsy, the presence of certain toxins or other agents in the blood, or fever in children.Calcium is a very important mineral for the normal functioning of brain cells, and low levels of calcium can cause seizures. A deficiency of magnesium, a mineral that interacts with calcium, may cause low blood calcium and therefore seizures.

A – arrhythmias

Research has identified the functional linkage between intracellular calcium levels and the sodium channel in the heart. A lack of calcium may cause abnormal heart rhythm since calcium is needed to regulate heart beat to normal levels. Calcium also helps to control blood pressure

T – Tetany

When tetany occurs, muscles contract involuntarily in a painful way.Tetany results from a markedly low calcium level (hypocalcemia), which can be linked to a lack of vitamin D, low magnesium levels (hypomagnesemia), impaired utilization of calcium (such as in renal failure and pancreatitis), decreased function of the parathyroid glands (hypoparathyroidism), excess of bicarbonate in blood (alkalosis), septic shock, hypoproteinemia, and hyperphosphatemia. These conditions affect the distribution of calcium in the blood and contribute to low blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia).

S – Stridor

The most common causes of stridor in adults are abscesses or swelling of the upper airway, tumors and paralysis or malfunction of the vocal cords. Laryngospasm due to hypocalcemia is a rare cause of stridor. Hypocalcemia with stridor is a well-known condition in the pediatric age group but has rarely been reported in the elderly.

 

Sources:

Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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