Calcium gluconate is calcium combined with glucose, or blood sugar. It is a mineral supplement that is used to treat various conditions including rickets, lead colic, overdose of magnesium sulfate, and hypocalcemic tetany. Also, it may be used in the treatment of insect bites or stings, particularly black widow spider bites. Calcium occurs naturally in foods like yogurt, milk, and cheese, and it is most readily absorbed when taken in conjunction with vitamin D.
There are several different ways that calcium gluconate can be administered. It is available in pill form, as an intravenous (IV) injection, and as an ingredient in a topical gel. Also, it may be taken orally for the treatment of osteoporosis. Calcium gluconate may be prescribed as a hypocalcemia treatment. Hypocalcemia, or low levels of calcium in the blood, can be caused by pregnancy, rapid growth, or hypoparathyrodism.
Although calcium gluconate may be administered intravenously, it cannot be given as an intramuscular or subcutaneous injection because it can cause abscesses and necrosis of the skin or other tissues. As a component of a topical gel, it is used for hydrofluoric acid burns for its ability to neutralize the acid. This drug is also available in chewable form, effervescent tablets, and suspended in a liquid.
As with any drug, there are certain side effects associated with calcium gluconate. Common side effects associated with its use are diarrhea and upset stomach. Patients are advised to contact a physician if any of the following side effects are observed: tiredness, weakness, extreme thirst, increased urination, or headaches. Other potential side effects include changes in mood, muscle or bone pain, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, and nausea. There are other potential side effects and allergic reactions are possible, although rare.
Only a physician can determine whether the side effects experienced while taking calcium gluconate are cause for discontinuing treatment. Also, it can be important for a person to follow any instructions provided by a doctor or pharmacist when taking this drug. It should not be taken with certain other medications or medical conditions, particularly high calcium levels — also known as hypercalcemia. A doctor should also be consulted before taking calcium gluconate while pregnant or breast-feeding.
Calcium lactate gluconate, commonly called calcium gluconolactate, is calcium gluconate mixed with calcium lactate. The combination of these two calcium salts is high in calcium. Calcium lactate gluconate is commonly used as a food additive in foods that are enriched with calcium.