What happens when calcium levels are low?
Hypocalcemia, commonly known as calcium deficiency disease, occurs when calcium levels in the blood are low. A long-term deficiency can lead to dental changes, cataracts, alterations in the brain, and osteoporosis, which causes the bones to become brittle.
Complications of hypocalcemia can be life-threatening, and if the condition goes untreated, it could eventually lead to death.
A calcium deficiency may have no early symptoms. To avoid complications, a person should seek prompt diagnosis and treatment if they experience any of the symptoms listed below.
In this article, we also describe the prevalence of calcium deficiency disease, how to prevent it, and how it is treated.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms described below may become worse as the disease progresses.
1. Muscle problems.
Muscle aches, cramps, and spasms are the earliest signs of a calcium deficiency. People tend to feel pain in the thighs and arms, particularly the underarms, when walking and otherwise moving.
A calcium deficiency can also cause numbness and tingling in the hands, arms, feet, legs, and around the mouth.
These sensations may indicate a more severe deficiency.
These symptoms can come and go, but they do not disappear with activity, and a person may have to wait them out.
2. Extreme fatigue.
Low levels of calcium can cause insomnia or sleepiness.
People tend to experience:
-an overall feeling of sluggishness.
-lack of energy.
-Fatigue associated with calcium deficiency can also cause lightheadedness, dizziness, and brain fog, which involves lack of focus, forgetfulness, and confusion.
3. Nail and skin symptoms.
Chronic calcium deficiency can affect the skin and nails.
The skin may become dry and itchy, and researchers have linked hypocalcemia to eczema and psoriasis. Eczema is a general term for skin inflammation. Symptoms include itchiness, redness, and skin blisters. Eczema is highly treatable, while psoriasis can be managed, but there is no cure.
A calcium deficiency may lead to dry, broken, and brittle nails. It can also contribute to alopecia, a condition that causes hair to fall out in round patches.
4. Osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Calcium deficiency can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Osteopenia reduces the mineral density of bones, and it can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis makes bones thinner and more susceptible to fractures. It can cause pain, issues with posture, and eventual disability.
While osteopenia is less severe than osteoporosis, both cause diminished bone density and increased risk of breaks and fractures.
The bones store calcium well, but they require high levels to stay strong. When overall levels of calcium are low, the body can divert it from the bones, making them brittle and prone to injury.
It takes years for bones to lose their density, and a calcium deficiency may take as long to cause serious problems.
5. Painful premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Low calcium levels have been linked to severe PMS.
Participants in one 2017 study reported improved mood and reduced rates of fluid retention after taking 500 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily for 2 months.
Results of a clinical trial from 2009 also demonstrated a link between increased calcium intake and the improvement of PMS symptoms.
Participants who took 500 mg of calcium daily over 3 months also reported less depression and fatigue, and improved appetite.
6. Dental Problems.
When the body lacks calcium, it pulls it from sources such as the teeth. This can lead to dental problems, including weak roots, irritated gums, brittle teeth, and tooth decay.
Also, calcium deficiency in infants can delay tooth formation.
Calcium deficiency has been linked to mood disorders, including depression, though evidence is lacking.
Anyone who suspects that a calcium deficiency is contributing to depressive symptoms should ask a doctor to check their levels. Calcium supplements could help to manage these symptoms.
When to see a doctor.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of a calcium deficiency should speak with a doctor. They will order tests and check the levels of calcium in the blood.
The normal range for adults is 8.8–10.4 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Children require more calcium than adults, and any level lower than 8.8 mg/dL constitutes a deficiency.
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What happens when calcium levels are low?
By HEALTH ZONE