The symptom of tetany is characterized by muscle cramps, spasms, or tremors. A muscle contracts uncontrollably when it performs repetitive actions. There are many muscles in your body that are capable of exhibiting tetanies, such as those in your face, fingers, and calf. It can be painful and long-lasting to experience the muscle cramps associated with tetany. It is common for tetany to be caused by a low level of calcium in the body.
Low calcium is medically referred to as hypocalcemia. Hypocalcemia can cause this for many different reasons, and these conditions can have varying degrees of severity. This can be caused by severe diarrhea and kidney disease. Tetany may be caused by problems with your thyroid or pancreas, which can cause low calcium levels. Hypocalcemia can also occur during pregnancy, breastfeeding, malnutrition, vitamin D deficiency, and some medications.
What Is Tetany?
Tétanism, also known as tetany, is a condition in which muscles contract without conscious control because they are activated by an abnormal action potential frequency.
Tetanus causes muscle cramps, but not tetany; rather, the lack of inhibition to the neurons that supply muscles causes them. This disease is only one type of muscle contraction from the broad range of tetanic contractions (physiologic tetanus).
Several symptoms are indicative of hypocalcemia, which is characterized by a low level of calcium in the blood. Many cellular processes depend on stable calcium levels, including neuronal activity, muscular contraction, hormone production, and blood coagulation. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) regulates serum calcium levels, which are low when PTH is released into the blood.
Occasionally, hypercalcemia is caused by increased resistance to PTH, and less commonly, by a decrease in PTH levels. This condition is known as hypoparathyroidism and can be caused by surgical removal of the parathyroid gland, autoimmune conditions, genetic conditions affecting the parathyroid gland (e.g., DiGeorge’s syndrome), or magnesium deficiency.
Hypocalcemia can also occur when vitamin D levels are low. In addition to a deficient diet and intestinal malabsorption, vitamin D deficiency can also be caused by chronic kidney failure. Hypocalcemia can also occur as a result of too little calcium left in the body, which is seen in renal failure patients, those with chronic pancreatitis, those with severe infections, and those taking several medications.
As well as hypocalcemia, other metabolic irregularities can also contribute to tetany, including acid-base imbalances and electrolyte imbalances. Tetany is typically caused by a combination of metabolic abnormalities, rather than by a single cause.
Symptoms Of Tetany
The clinical manifestations of tetany can range from mild sensory disturbances to severe, life-threatening complications. Paresthesias are sensations such as burning or tingling that occur in the hands and feet, as well as numbness around the mouth.
Occasionally, people may present with spasms of the voice box (i.e., laryngospasm), which can cause difficulty breathing and cause high-pitched sounds while breathing (i.e., laryngeal stridor). In addition to vomiting, muscle cramps, and seizures, people who have tetany may also experience irregular heart rhythms or decreases in cardiac function. A muscle cramp occurs when a muscle contract involuntarily and cannot relax, causing significant pain.
Symptoms of this disease include muscle cramps, paresthesias affecting the hands or feet, and numbness in the mouth. When an individual’s sensory and motor functions are thoroughly assessed in a neurological examination, these symptoms can be observed. It may take time for the diagnosis to be made in some patients due to the absence of obvious tetany symptoms. Hypocalcemia-related tetany can also manifest in tetany with Trousseau’s sign, for example.
In order to confirm a diagnosis of this, low levels of calcium in the blood need to be present. Furthermore, laboratory tests can identify the underlying cause of tetany in an individual by measuring parathyroid hormone (PTH), vitamin D, magnesium, and phosphorus levels in their blood.
The doctor will be able to treat the condition at its root if they know what caused the tetany.
Treatment aims to correct imbalances in the short term. For example, calcium and magnesium supplements can help. A calcium injection directly into the bloodstream is the most common method. It may, however, be necessary for the patient to take calcium orally (along with vitamin D) to prevent the condition from returning.
If a doctor is able to pinpoint the cause of tetany, more serious treatment options may be considered. Surgically removing a parathyroid tumor, for example, could alleviate your symptoms.
The condition that caused the tetany may need to be treated with calcium supplements in some cases, such as kidney failure.
Most Important Facts to Know About Tetany
Whenever there is a low calcium level in the blood, a condition known as tetany results (i.e., hypocalcemia). Symptoms of this disease include numbness, cramps, and paresthesias of the hands and feet.
The most severe symptoms are difficulty breathing due to spasms of the voice box (laryngospasm), seizures, and decreased cardiac function. Observation of these symptoms confirms a diagnosis of tetany, as do blood tests showing low calcium levels. Calcium supplements, as well as vitamin D and magnesium supplements, may be prescribed to enhance calcium absorption.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tetany