What is tetany?

Tetany is a symptom characterized by muscle cramps, spasms or tremors. These repetitive actions of the muscles happen when your muscle contracts uncontrollably. Tetany may occur in any muscle in your body, such as those in your face, fingers or calves. The muscle cramping associated with tetany can be long lasting and painful.

Muscle Problems Spotlight

A common cause of tetany is very low levels of calcium in the body. The medical term for low calcium is hypocalcemia. There are many causes of hypocalcemia that can lead to tetany, and these different causes can vary widely in severity.

Serious causes of tetany include severe diarrhea and kidney disease. Problems with your thyroid or pancreas can create low calcium levels, which may cause tetany. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, malnutrition, vitamin D deficiency, and some medications may also cause hypocalcemia, leading to tetany.

In some cases, tetany may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have slurred speech and other serious symptoms, such as changes in consciousness, vomiting, severe headache, and changes in mood, personality and behavior.

If your tetany is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with tetany?

Tetany may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the muscles may also involve other body systems.... Read more about tetanysymptoms

CAUSES

What causes tetany?

A common cause of tetany is very low levels of calcium in the body. The medical term for low calcium is hypocalcemia. There are many causes of hypocalcemia that can lead to tetany.... Read more about tetanycauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles


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