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Hypercalcemia (Elevated Calcium Levels) (cont.)

IN THIS ARTICLE

Hypercalcemia Treatment

Self-Care at Home

If a patient is bedridden at home, changing positions frequently and physiotherapy can be helpful in preventing calcium rise secondary to immobility.

Medical Treatment

Patient Comments

Treatment of hypercalcemia depends on two main factors.

  1. Is the level of calcium elevated enough to be dangerous, or is it causing symptoms?
  2. What is the underlying cause of the hypercalcemia, and does it need treatment?

If hypercalcemia in a patient is causing severe symptoms or if the values are critically elevated, lowering the blood calcium levels may require hospitalization and the use of hydration, steroids, or even dialysis. Intravenous medications can be used to lower the patient's calcium levels.

Treatment with medications can be administered to the patient on an out-patient basis if the hypercalcemia state is modest.

Medications

As mentioned previously, medication treatment depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. If the cause is known, medications and treatment are aimed toward the underlying cause. Oral and intravenous medications can be used in the treatment of hypercalcemia; however, some may require a hospital or monitored setting.

Surgery

If the underlying cause is hyperparathyroidism (particularly from an adenoma), there are certain criteria that are reviewed to discuss if surgery should be considered. These criteria include the absolute calcium level, a history of kidney stones or other calcium-related complications, and the amount of calcium measured in a 24-hour urine collection. Based on these findings, surgical removal of the adenoma may be considered.

Follow-up

Follow-up with the patient's treating physician is necessary for both the underlying condition and hypercalcemia.

Prevention

Hypercalcemia cannot be prevented, but early detection of the condition allows for normalization of calcium levels and leads to an early medical evaluation to determine the cause. If there is a known family history of hypercalcemia or hyperparathyroidism, the patient should tell the treating health care practitioner. Together, the patient and health care practitioner can determine if screening is warranted.

Outlook

The results of treatment for hypercalcemia depend on the underlying cause of the condition. If hypercalcemia is seen in the presence of cancer, the average 1-year survival rate is less than 30%. The prognosis is excellent for many of the other causes of hypercalcemia, if the underlying cause is diagnosed and treated.

Medically reviewed by John A. Seibel, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in Endocrinology & Metabolism


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/4/2014
Medical Editor:

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