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What is high blood calcium?

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Quick Answer

Hypercalcemia, the medical term for a high calcium level, occurs when too much calcium builds up in the blood, states MedlinePlus. In adults, a normal calcium level ranges from 8.8 to 10.4 milligrams per deciliter, according to WebMD.

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Full Answer

The most common cause of a high calcium level is hyperparathyroidism, explains MedlinePlus. This condition develops when the parathyroid glands release too much parathyroid hormone. Hypercalcemia is also caused by kidney failure, excess calcium intake, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory diseases and some cancerous tumors. Another cause of high calcium levels is familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia, a genetic condition that makes it difficult for the body to regulate the amount of calcium in the blood.

Hypercalcemia affects the digestive, urinary and skeletomuscular systems, according to MedlinePlus. Digestive problems associated with elevated calcium levels include constipation, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and abdominal pain. Hypercalcemia also causes frequent urination, bone pain, loss of height, muscle twitches and muscle weakness.

The right treatment for hypercalcemia depends on the underlying cause, reports MedlinePlus. If an elevated calcium level is caused by hyperparathyroidism, a doctor may have to remove the overactive parathyroid glands. Drugs used to treat severe hypercalcemia include furosemide, calcitonin and pamidronate. Hypercalcemia is also treated with steroids, intravenous fluids and drugs that prevent the breakdown of bone.

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