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Hypercalcemia – Causes and Symptoms of Hypercalcemia

Hypercalcemia is a condition that is characterized by abnormally high levels of calcium in blood. Calcium is an important mineral present in our body needed for bone formation. It helps in formation of blood clots, regulating the heartbeat and muscle contraction. These processes regulated by calcium can be interfered if the calcium levels go high.

The sudden increase in calcium levels is due to overactivity of parathyroid hormone that regulates calcium. Hypercalcemia is more likely to develop in post-menopausal women. This condition is associated with malignancy and occurs in 10 to 20% of people with cancers.

Causes of Hypercalcemia
Hypercalcemia is caused as a result of abnormal activity of two hormones that mainly regulate calcium levels in the blood. The hormones are parathyroid hormone and calcitonin. Parathyroid hormone stimulates the bones to release calcium and thus tries to maintain normal calcium levels in the blood. When calcium levels rise high in blood, the thyroid gland releases calcitonin hormone that slows down the release of calcium from the bones. When these two hormones are affected, the calcium levels go abnormal resulting in hypercalcemia.

Causes of hypercalcemia are:

  • Dehydration – As a result of dehydration when the fluid levels in the blood decrease, the calcium concentration increases leading to hypercalcemia.
  • Supplements – Excessive intake of vitamin D or calcium supplements may raise calcium levels in the blood.
  • Medications – Certain medications such as diuretics increase the calcium levels in blood by decreasing the amount of calcium in the urine.
  • Disease effects – People who spend a lot of time in sitting or lying down as a cause of cancer or other diseases develop hypercalcemia. This is because the bones do not bear weight and hence release calcium into the blood.
  • Other diseases – Certain diseases such as cancers of blood, breat cancers and lung cancers produce a protein that acts like parathyroid hormone. This stimulates the release of calcium from the bones into the blood.
  • Overactivity of parathyroid glands – The over activity of any one of the four parathyroid glands results in hypercalcemia.

Symptoms of Hypercalcemia
The signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia include:

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting

When to seek a medical professional
Consult your medical professional and seek the immediate help if you experience symptoms of hypercalcemia such as abdominal pain, frequent urination and excessive thirst.

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