High calcium also known as Hypercalcemia means you have too much calcium in your blood.
Parathyroid hormone (PTH) and Vitamin D help manage calcium balance in the body.
- PTH is made by the parathyroid glands. These are four small glands located in the neck behind the thyroid gland.
- Vitamin D is obtained when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and from dietary sources.
The most common cause of high calcium blood level is excess PTH released by the parathyroid glands. This excess occurs due to:
- An enlargement of one or more of the parathyroid glands.
- A growth on one of the glands. Most of the time, these growths are benign.
Calcium blood level may also be high if your body is low on fluids or water.
Other conditions can also cause hypercalcemia:
- Certain kinds of cancers, such as lung and breast cancer, or cancer that has spread to your organs.
- Too much vitamin D in your system.
- Being on bed rest for a long time.
- Being bed-bound (or not being able to move) for a long period of time.
- Too much calcium in your diet. This is called milk-alkali syndrome. It most often occurs when a person is taking more than 2000 milligrams of calcium bicarbonate supplements a day.
- Overactive thyroid gland.
- Chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.
- Medicines such as lithium and thiazide diuretics (water pills).
- Some infections or health problems such as, Paget’s disease and sarcoidosis.
- An inherited condition that affects the body’s ability to manage calcium.
Men and women of all ages can have a high blood calcium level. However, it is most common in women over age 50 (after menopause). In most cases, this is due to an overactive parathyroid gland.
The condition is most often diagnosed at an early stage using routine blood tests. Most people have no symptoms. Symptoms due to high calcium level may vary, depending on the cause and how long the problem has been present. They may include:
- Digestive symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting, poor appetite, or constipation
- Increased thirst or more frequent urination, due to changes in the kidneys
- Muscle weakness or twitches
- Changes in how your brain works, such as feeling tired or fatigued or confused
- Bone pain and long-term spine changes, if the bones have become thinner or weaker