Calcium is vital for life, and extracellular calcium concentrations must constantly be maintained within a precise concentration range. Low serum calcium (hypocalcemia) occurs in conjunction with multiple disorders and can be life-threatening if severe. Symptoms of acute hypocalcemia include neuromuscular irritability, tetany, and seizures, which are rapidly resolved with intravenous administration of calcium gluconate. However, disorders that lead to chronic hypocalcemia often have more subtle manifestations. Hypoparathyroidism, characterized by impaired secretion of parathyroid hormone (PTH), a key regulatory hormone for maintaining calcium homeostasis, is a classic cause of chronic hypocalcemia. Disorders that disrupt the metabolism of vitamin D can also lead to chronic hypocalcemia, as vitamin D is responsible for increasing the gut absorption of dietary calcium. Treatment and management options for chronic hypocalcemia vary depending on the underlying disorder. For example, in patients with hypoparathyroidism, calcium and vitamin D supplementation must be carefully titrated to avoid symptoms of hypocalcemia while keeping serum calcium in the low-normal range to minimize hypercalciuria, which can lead to renal dysfunction. Management of chronic hypocalcemia requires knowledge of the factors that influence the complex regulatory axes of calcium homeostasis in a given disorder. This chapter discusses common and rare disorders of hypocalcemia, symptoms and workup, and management options including replacement of PTH in hypoparathyroidism.
Keywords: hypocalcemia; hypoparathyroidism; parathyroid hormone; pseudohypoparathyroidism; vitamin D.
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