What is high blood calcium?

High Blood Calcium
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Hypercalcemia: Overview

Hypercalcemia is too much calcium in the blood. You need calcium to have strong bones. It also helps your muscles, heart, and nerves work as they should. But too much is dangerous.

Several problems can cause too much calcium in the blood. It can happen because of medicines or certain health problems. Some diseases can make your intestines take in too much calcium. And some can take calcium from your bones. A noncancerous tumor can grow in the glands that control calcium levels. And some cancers can cause high calcium levels.

These high levels may make you lose fluids (become dehydrated). You may get confused and very tired. Some people also have nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Your doctor will treat you based on how serious the problem is and what is causing it. Since too much calcium can be dangerous, it is important to treat it. You may get fluids to stop dehydration. You also may get medicine to help your body get rid of calcium through your urine or put it back into your bones. If a tumor is the cause, you may need surgery.

High blood calcium (hypercalcemia)

Hypercalcemia is an abnormally high level of calcium in the blood. It can be caused by high levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) and may occur in hyperparathyroidism.

Hypercalcemia can also develop without high levels of PTH. This occurs in vitamin D overdose, prolonged periods of bed rest or immobilization, and some types of cancer.

Symptoms of hypercalcemia include weakness, lack of energy, not wanting to eat, nausea and vomiting, constipation, urinating a lot, belly pain, or bone pain.

Hypercalcemia is treated by determining and treating the cause of the high blood calcium. Saline and diuretics are given to help the body get rid of extra calcium. Calcitonin is given to help move extra calcium out of the blood. Bisphosphonates are also used.

How can you care for hypercalcemia?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Make sure your doctor knows about all the medicines (including over-the-counter or herbal products) you are taking. If a medicine is causing your high calcium levels, your doctor will have you stop taking it.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports. Exercise helps the calcium go back into your bones.
  • Do not reduce how much calcium you eat.
  • Let your doctor know if you take vitamins or other supplements that have calcium or vitamin D.

Hypercalcemia: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are confused or have trouble thinking clearly.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You are feeling so tired or weak that you cannot do your usual activities.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.