Calcium is a mineral needed for bone health, muscle movement, and nerve function. Hypercalcemia is higher than normal levels of calcium in your blood.
Short-term or acute high levels of calcium can cause muscle twitching or weakness. Long-term high levels of calcium can lead to kidney stones or bone problems.
Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium from food or supplements. Once in your body, calcium may be stored in the bones or exist in the blood and cells. Levels of calcium in the blood are normally regulated by hormones from the parathyroid gland. Calcium is excreted through the kidneys.
Hypercalcemia may occur if an illness or medication interferes with this process or destroys bone and other tissue releasing extra calcium into the blood .The most common causes of hypercalcemia are medications, or an overactive parathyroid gland.
Dehydration can also cause temporary hypercalcemia. Decreased fluid in the blood causes an increase in concentration, but not amount of calcium.
Factors that may interfere with hormones and lead to hypercalcemia include:
Factors that may increase the amount of calcium in the body or blood include:
Other factors that may increase your risk of hypercalcemia include:
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Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids will be tested. This can be done with:
If hypercalcemia is associated with a parathyroid problem or cancer your doctor may need images with:
Other tests may be done to look for any effects of hypercalcemia such as:
Treatment will depend on the cause of hypercalcemia. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
IV fluids may be given to help flush out the excess calcium.
Medication may also be given to control the condition causing the problem or to encourage removal of calcium from the blood. Medication options may include:
Other treatments depend on the cause of your hypercalcemia but may include:
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Carroll M, Schade D. A practical approach to hypercalcemia. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(9):1959-1966.
Hypercalcemia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116018/Hypercalcemia. Updated June 18, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2015.
Hypercalcaemia. Patient UK website. Available at: http://patient.info/doctor/hypercalcaemia. Updated January 13, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2015.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Karli-Rae Kerrschneider, RN
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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