by Amy Scholten, MPH
Hypocalcemia is when there is not enough calcium in the blood. Calcium is a mineral needed for healthy bones, muscles, and nerves.
This condition can be mild to life-threatening.
Hypocalcemia is caused by problems in how the body absorbs, balances, or keeps calcium. Calcium levels are affected by many things such as:
Low calcium levels are more common in those who are very ill. It is also more common in newborn babies who are premature. Other things that raise the risk are:
Early hypocalcemia may not have symptoms. When symptoms happen, they may be:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Blood tests will show the level of calcium.
The doctor may do other tests to look for causes or problems. They may be:
The goal of treatment is to get calcium back to normal levels. Underlying causes may need to be treated first.
Supplements may be given by mouth or IV. They may be:
The doctor or dietitian may advise diet changes.
To help prevent low calcium levels:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
The Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Catalano A, Chilà D, et al. Incidence of hypocalcemia and hypercalcemia in hospitalized patients: Is it changing? J Clin Transl Endocrinol. 2018;13:9-13.
Hypocalcemia. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available at: https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/hypocalcemia. Accessed August 5, 2021.
Hypocalcemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypocalcemia. Accessed July 30, 2021.
Hypocalcemia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-disorders/hypocalcemia. Accessed August 5, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 7/30/2021