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What are the dangers of high calcium levels in the blood?

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An elevated blood calcium level is called hypercalcemia and can cause serious complications that include osteoporosis, kidney stones, kidney failure, nervous system problems and arrhythmia, explains Mayo Clinic. The most common cause of hypercalcemia is an overactive parathyroid gland. Other causes include cancer, dehydration, immobility, medication and supplement use.

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Certain hereditary conditions, tuberculosis and sarcoidosis may also cause elevated blood calcium levels, according to Mayo Clinic. Mild cases of calcium elevation often do not cause any symptoms. When calcium levels are severely elevated, people experience excessive thirst and urination, upset stomach, constipation, nausea and vomiting. Neurological symptoms include confusion, lethargy and fatigue.

The treatment of hypercalcemia depends on the cause, explains The Merck Manual Professional Edition. Patients with mild hypercalcemia are observed until the cause of the elevation is found. Moderate cases are treated with isotonic saline and loop diuretics. Some patients are also treated with medications that decrease bone reabsorption, corticosteroids and chloroquine. Bisphosphonates are a group of drugs that are considered drugs of choice for cancer associated hypercalcemia and include pamidronate, ibandronate, etidronate, alendronate and risedronate.

Severe hypercalcemia is treated with hemodialysis and low-Ca dialysate, explains The Merck Manual Professional Edition. Patients with hypercalcemia caused by hyperparathyroidism may require surgery to remove portions of the parathyroid gland.

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