Hypercalcemia happens when blood concentration levels of calcium are too high for the human body to function properly.
High calcium levels will likely lead to a buildup of kidney stones. It can also weaken your bones and interfere with the proper functioning of the brain and heart.
It can be diagnosed by its unique combination of symptoms, as well as following some fairly uniform causes.
This is not always the case, and a health care practitioner should be consulted before starting any self-treatment.
Blood and urine tests are generally used by doctors to check the calcium level in the blood, as well as protein and other substances.
Hypercalcemia Causes and Who it Affects
Hypercalcemia can affect anyone — young or old. An excess of vitamin D has been known to cause this.
Tuberculosis or kidney infections could also cause high calcium levels. Monitoring calcium levels after one of those diseases is recommended because of that risk.
Below are a few other common causes of this condition:
- Hypercalcemia may be a result of the medication a person is taking, and can even be an early sign of cancer. It can have pretty severe symptoms such as stomach pains and frequent urination.
- High blood calcium levels are many times caused by a small benign tumor in one of the parathyroid glands. This happens when the gland is overactive. If this is the case, an operation will likely be needed to remove the tumor. [R]
- It can also be caused by ingesting too much vitamin D or certain drugs. It is important to note that if your blood calcium level is high but your vitamin D level is low, then a parathyroid tumor is the most likely answer. [R]
- Some cancers like breast cancer, lung cancer, and blood cancers, can heighten the risk for hypercalcemia.
Depending on diet, there may also be ways to cut down heavy calcium intake in your daily life. This could help with risks and symptoms relating to Hypercalcemia.
It is important to consult your doctor if you suspect you may have hypercalcemia. He or she will be able to advise you on what steps to take especially in severe cases.
Below are some of the most common hypercalcemia symptoms. In other words, these are some of the things you will go through if high calcium goes untreated.
Those suffering from hypercalcemia will often describe having what appears to be an unquenchable thirst. This is due to the way that bodily functions take more energy to accomplish, depleting liquid resources quicker. [R]
The excess calcium dehydrates the body. It is thus important to drink a lot of fluids when suffering from Hypercalcemia.
It is also important to be wary of urine output since it is likely that the calcium will have an effect on what is normal.
If there is a noticeable change in color, smell, or consistency that lasts beyond 3-4 days, consult a doctor for advice. Frequent urination is normal due to excessive water intake.
One of the less thought of symptoms of Hypercalcemia is problems with indigestion. Many cases of nausea have been reported in those suffering from the disorder.
An upset stomach, diarrhea, abdominal pains, and constipation have all been known to occur in the body. Often times, nausea will lead to vomiting.
The digestive system as a whole will have a more difficult time functioning due to the excess of calcium in the body. Everything will have to work twice as hard as it used to get the same result.
This constant wear brought on by overuse can cause some of these symptoms. They can also, like constipation and abdominal pains, be as a direct result of too much calcium.
3. Mental Health Issues
A patient’s mental state could also be affected by too much calcium found in their bloodstream.
Hypercalcemia patients have shown to be sufferers of a number of symptoms including lethargy, fatigue, and potentially even depression. [R]
The strain on a person’s organs would be one of the causes. The condition affects not just the kidneys and the stomach, but the brain as well.
High calcium content in the blood can have an effect on the functionality of the brain, producing hormones or instructions that cause tiredness or sadness.
4. Kidney Stones
Relating to the dehydration, the kidneys have to work overtime as they attempt to flush out the extra calcium that is trying to pass through. [R]
When the calcium is making it nearly impossible to keep hydrated due to the way it dries everything out, the kidneys suffer. They still attempt to do what they can to flush out toxins, but without fluids, it becomes near impossible to do.
The result is kidney stones. Kidney stones can be quite painful as they have to pass. That is why it is necessary to do as much as you can to make up for the fluids lost to calcium and drink water.
It is the only way to potentially prevent having to pass kidney stones.
5. Bone Pain
The thing about too much calcium is that it is the bones that release it. This could mean a potential calcium deficiency as far as the bones are concerned.
A lack of calcium in the bones would mean pain due to the abnormal activity. Being calcium deficient would also weaken them. This could also be the cause of surrounding muscle weakness.
6. High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is frequently increased as soon as calcium levels begin to rise. This can be particularly dangerous for those already suffering from high blood pressure. [R]
It is important to be wary of how increased blood pressure could affect you, especially since it could cause a number of heart-related issues.
7. Heart Problems
In very rare, extreme cases, hypercalcemia can cause heart palpitations and other heart problems. Usually, these cases are linked to those with pre-existing conditions.
Rising calcium levels have the potential to harm the heart when the heart is already susceptible to issues.
Treating High Calcium Levels Naturally
Those with mild cases of hypercalcemia may have no need for medical treatment. Natural remedies are, therefore, acceptable until calcium levels reach extreme heights.
It is important to be a good judge of yourself to determine the severity of the symptoms.
1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
It is important to attempt to resume your regular amount of physical exercise when suffering from hypercalcemia.
While this may not be possible considering a person’s symptoms, exercise can be good for helping keep up brain functions.
It can aid as a counteractive measure to the fatigue and lethargy experienced by a patient.
2. Drink More Pure Water
For obvious reasons, being conscious of your water intake while diagnosed with hypercalcemia is a must. Being in a near constant state of dehydration is one of the most severe symptoms of the disorder.
A lack of water has an effect on the severity of the other symptoms. Not only that, but it will make it more difficult to flush excess calcium out of the body.
For those reasons, drinking more water than normal is necessary to help return you to health.
3. Avoid or Reduce the Intake of Phosphate
The parathyroid glands that are often responsible for Hypercalcemia use and absorbs phosphate. Phosphate can make overactive parathyroid glands worse. [R]
The glands will try to deal with and get rid of the phosphate as well as the excess calcium levels. This means that the healing process of hypercalcemia would be much longer than otherwise.
4. Reduce Vitamin D Intake
When considering hypercalcemia treatment, reducing your vitamin D intake is crucial when attempting to lessen the effects of the condition. Everything that vitamin D supports is counteractive due to the way in which it affects the body.
Its properties slow down the process of flushing calcium out of your system, and so it is essential to keep vitamin D levels low until the calcium gets flushed out.
5. Get a Normal Amount of Calcium
When you have been diagnosed with hypercalcemia, it important to reduce calcium intake. However, if you were to go from too much calcium to no calcium intake all at once, it would do more harm than good.
The fluctuation would be harmful as the blood would call for the bones to release even more calcium.
This would further damage the bones, make the blood concentration level of calcium even higher, and slow the healing process.
6. Chaste Tree Tea or Supplement
Taking chaste tree supplement or drinking the tea can be beneficial to the healing of the symptoms when dealing with Hypercalcemia.
Chaste Tree is known to help regulate the parathyroid gland. This means that it promotes the absorption and flushing out of the excess calcium in the body caused by the gland. [R]
7. Maintain Good Health (Drop Bad Habits)
By, at least temporarily, stopping bad habits such as smoking, drugs, and a lack of exercise can be crucial. Hypercalcemia may not be common, but it can be serious.
Maintaining your health to the best of your ability is one of the most important things that you can do to treat the symptoms of hypercalcemia.
High calcium levels is usually linked to your lifestyle, with initial diagnosis stemming from what you do.
Overactive parathyroid glands can be caused by what you eat or how much you are taking care of yourself.
That means that just by being more conscious of your health, you can help relieve some of the severity of the symptoms.
What to Eat?
The most important thing to keep in mind when eating high-calcium foods is the calcium content.
Low-calcium foods are essential to even have a hope in overcoming the disorder.
This means that looking for foods that are lacking or low in this element is really the only thing that a person can do. At least, when hoping to solve the issue through their diet.
It is important to ensure that you are eating a fish with low calcium levels such as cod or tuna. They have all the benefits of a healthy meal while not making your hypercalcemia worse.
Fish is a good option with few calories to allow for a healthy, tasty meal while limiting calcium intake.
Beans can be a great source of protein and nutrients to add to your diet. They are almost exclusively low in calcium content.
3. Legumes and Grains
The phytic content in such foods as legumes and grains help prevent some calcium absorption in the body. This will help keep excess calcium out of your system.
Legumes and grains are also great staples to add to any diet. Your body would still be able to get maintain its nutritious meal plan.
4. Low-Calcium Fruits
Many fruits, including papaya, kiwis, oranges, and raspberries are high in nutrients but low in calcium.
Eating such fruits is a great way to balance your diet while maintaining a lack of calcium in your meals.
5. Low-Calcium Foods
So many of the foods that we eat on an everyday basis have high calcium levels. This is no good for those who are having problems with high calcium in blood.
Ingestion of leafy greens such as spinach alongside dairy should be minimized if not taken out of the diet entirely.
Low-calcium foods that you can use as replacement include:
- Black beans
- Dark chocolate
- Bok Choy (raw)
- Lima beans
- Dandelion greens (raw)
- Collard greens (raw)
- Kidney beans
- Brown rice
- White Beans
- Kale (raw)
- Sunflower seeds
- Turnip greens (raw)
- Garbanzo Beans
6. Organic Chicken
Without seasoning or breading, chicken could be a great way to balance your diet while suffering from hypercalcemia.
It can be hard to find foods high in protein but low in calcium content. Chicken can provide this essential role while helping to prevent the rise of blood calcium levels.
What to Avoid?
To lower calcium in your blood, these are some of the things to avoid.
1. Fish Bones
Fish can be a great food when trying to limit calcium intake. The harmful part comes when you eat fish such as anchovies or sardines, where the bones are eaten with the fish.
Often times, a single portion of sardines will cause you to overdo your calcium intake level for the day.
Fish bones should be removed from the diet when you have hypercalcaemia.
2. Dairy Foods
Dairy foods such as cheese, milk, and eggs are often high in calcium content. It is not hard to see why such foods should be avoided when dealing with hypercalcemia.
It is best to cut these dairy foods out of your diet until blood calcium levels return to normal.
3. Dark Green Vegetables (especially when cooked)
Often times, one of the most appealing health benefits of leafy greens such as spinach and kale happens to be their calcium content.
These dark green vegetables, especially when cooked, are high in calcium and thus should be avoided while suffering from high blood calcium levels.
Many antacids have high calcium contents. They serve to neutralize the pH level of acid in your stomach in order to relieve things like indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, or indigestion.
If you are currently taking antacids and you have been diagnosed with hypercalcemia, it is important to ensure that they are specialized antacids with a low calcium content.
For many adults, multivitamins are a part of their daily routine. However, when experiencing hypercalcemia, your regular multivitamins may be giving you too much calcium.
Always read and follow the label.