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Hypercalcemia, what is it? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Hypercalcemia is defined by an abnormally high level of calcium in the bloodstream. This is usually the result of kidney damage, a malignant tumor or other underlying pathologies.

Definition of hypercalcemia

Hypercalcemia is characterized by an excessive level of calcium in the blood. It is defined by an amount greater than 2.60 mmol of calcium, per liter of blood (calcium & gt; 2.60 mmol / L).

Hypercalcemia must be identified, diagnosed and managed as quickly as possible in order to limit the serious consequences. In addition, this condition is usually related to a failure of an organ or a malignant tumor (able to develop into cancer).

Each individual may be affected by hypercalcemia. However, people with kidney disease, taking vitamin D-containing medicines, or patients with malignancy, are more prone to hypercalcemia.

Different levels of importance of hypercalcemia are to be differentiated:

  • between 2.60 and 3.00 mmol / L, the medical emergency is not systematic
  • between 3.00 and 3.50 mmol / L, medical emergency may be necessary
  • beyond 3.50 mmol / L, hypercalcemia must be managed urgently.

As a result, the level of hypercalcemia is directly related to the importance of the associated symptoms.

Causes of hypercalcemia

The primary cause of hypercalcemia is the presence of underlying kidney disease.

Other origins may be associated with this assignment:

  • hyperparathyroidism (abnormally high production of parathyroid hormones)
  • some treatments containing vitamin D
  • the presence of a malignant tumor
  • a hyperthyroidism

Evolution and possible complications of hypercalcemia

The evolutions and complications of this disease are similar to larger abnormalities of the renal system.

In addition, hypercalcemia may be a consequence of the presence of an underlying malignancy. Early diagnosis and identification of this cause reduces the risk of developing cancer.

Symptoms of hypercalcemia

Hypercalcemia less than 3.50 mmol / L is relatively common. This is a little or no symptomatic assignment.

For more important cases, the atypical symptoms are:

  • consequent need to urinate (polyuria)
  • an intense thirst (polydypsia)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • constipation
  • general weakness of the body
  • depressive symptoms
  • drowsiness and confusion
  • bone pain
  • kidney stones (crystal formations blocking the renal system)

Risk factors for hypercalcemia

The risk factors associated with hypercalcemia are: the presence of underlying renal disease, malignancy, or other disease.

Taking certain medications, especially NSAIDs, may pose an additional risk. Vitamin D toxicity is another.

How to treat hypercalcemia?

Drug treatments exist in the management of hypercalcemia.

Diphosphonate, intravenous injection (IV) is particularly effective as an outpatient treatment, and improves the quality of life of patients.

In the context of other clinical signs: neurological disorders, dehydration, etc. the basic treatment may be supplemented with mineralocorticoids or IV rehydration.

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