What are the causes and treatment options for elevated calcium levels?

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Elevated calcium levels, also known as hypercalcemia, can be a cause for concern as it indicates an imbalance in the body’s calcium levels. Calcium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in various bodily functions, including bone health, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission. However, when calcium levels become too high, it can lead to a range of symptoms and potential complications. In this article, we will explore the causes and treatment options for elevated calcium levels, as well as provide valuable insights into managing this condition.

Causes of Elevated Calcium

There are several potential causes of elevated calcium levels, and understanding these underlying factors is crucial in determining the appropriate treatment approach. Some common causes include:

  • Hyperparathyroidism: This condition occurs when the parathyroid glands produce excessive amounts of parathyroid hormone (PTH), leading to increased calcium levels in the blood.
  • Cancer: Certain types of cancer, such as lung, breast, and kidney cancer, can release substances that cause calcium to be released from the bones into the bloodstream.
  • Thyroid or kidney disorders: Dysfunction in the thyroid or kidneys can disrupt the regulation of calcium levels in the body.
  • Vitamin D toxicity: Excessive intake of vitamin D supplements or overexposure to sunlight can result in elevated calcium levels.
  • Medications: Certain medications, including thiazide diuretics and lithium, can interfere with calcium regulation and contribute to hypercalcemia.

Symptoms of High Calcium

Recognizing the symptoms of high calcium levels is crucial for early detection and prompt treatment. The symptoms can vary depending on the severity of hypercalcemia and may include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Confusion or cognitive difficulties
  • Muscle weakness or pain
  • Irregular heartbeat

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Treatment for Elevated Calcium

The treatment for elevated calcium levels aims to address the underlying cause and restore calcium balance in the body. The specific approach may vary depending on the severity of hypercalcemia and the individual’s overall health. Some common treatment options include:

Fluids and Diuretics

Increasing fluid intake and administering diuretics can help promote urine production and flush out excess calcium from the body. This approach is particularly effective in cases of mild hypercalcemia.


In cases where hyperparathyroidism is the underlying cause, medications may be prescribed to regulate the production of parathyroid hormone or inhibit the release of calcium from the bones.


Bisphosphonates are a class of medications that can help reduce bone breakdown and inhibit the release of calcium into the bloodstream. They are commonly used in the treatment of hypercalcemia associated with cancer.


Calcimimetics are medications that mimic the action of calcium on the parathyroid glands, thereby reducing the production of parathyroid hormone. They are primarily used in the treatment of hypercalcemia caused by hyperparathyroidism.


In cases where hyperparathyroidism is severe or persistent, surgical removal of the affected parathyroid gland(s) may be necessary to restore calcium balance.

Managing High Calcium Levels

In addition to medical treatment, certain lifestyle modifications can help manage high calcium levels and prevent recurrence. Here are some tips:

  • Stay hydrated: Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining proper calcium balance. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Monitor calcium intake: Be mindful of your dietary calcium intake and avoid excessive consumption of calcium-rich foods and supplements.
  • Exercise regularly: Engaging in regular physical activity can help promote bone health and prevent calcium imbalances.
  • Follow a balanced diet: Consume a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of nutrients to support overall health and calcium regulation.
  • Regular check-ups: Regularly monitor your calcium levels through blood tests and follow up with your healthcare provider to ensure proper management.

By implementing these lifestyle changes and following the prescribed treatment plan, individuals with elevated calcium levels can effectively manage their condition and reduce the risk of complications.

In conclusion, elevated calcium levels can be caused by various factors, including hormonal imbalances, certain medical conditions, and medications. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking prompt medical attention is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. With the appropriate treatment approach and lifestyle modifications, individuals can effectively manage high calcium levels and restore calcium balance in the body.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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