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Hypercalcemia - discharge

Your body needs calcium so that you can use your muscles. Calcium also keeps your bones and teeth strong and your heart healthy.

Hypercalcemia means you have too much calcium in your blood. Your blood calcium level may get too high due to:

  • Certain kinds of cancers
  • Problems with certain glands
  • Too much vitamin D in your system
  • Being on bed rest for a long time

When you were in the hospital, you were given fluids through an IV and drugs to help lower the calcium level in your blood. If you have cancer, you may have had treatment for that, as well. If your hypercalcemia is caused by a gland problem, you may have had surgery to remove that gland.

Self-care

After you go home, follow your doctor's instructions about making sure your calcium levels do not get high again.

You may need to drink a lot of liquids.

  • Make sure you drink as much water every day as your doctor recommends.
  • Keep water next to your bed at night and drink some when you get up to use the bathroom.

Do not cut back on how much salt you eat.

Your doctor may ask you to limit foods with a lot of calcium, or not to eat them at all for a while.

  • Eat fewer dairy foods (cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream, etc.) or do not eat them at all.
  • If your doctor says you may eat dairy foods, do not eat dairy foods that have extra calcium added. Read the labels carefully.

To further keep your calcium levels from getting high again:

  • Do not use antacids that have a lot of calcium in them. Look for antacids that have magnesium. Ask your doctor or nurse which ones are OK.
  • Ask your doctor what medicines and herbs are safe for you to take.
  • If your doctor prescribes medicines to help keep your calcium level from getting too high again, take them the way your doctor tells you to. Call your doctor if you have any side effects.
  • Stay active when you get home. Your doctor will tell you how much activity and exercise are OK.

You will probably need to get blood tests after you go home.

Keep any follow-up appointments you make with your doctor.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased thirst or dry mouth
  • Little or no sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Blood in the urine
  • Dark urine
  • Pain on one side of your back
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe constipation

References

Bringhurst FR, DeMay MB, Kronenberg HM. Hormones and disorders of mineral metabolism. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011: chap 28.

Morton AR, Lipton A. Hypercalcemia. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, et al., eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2013:chap 37.

Wysolmerski JJ, Insogna KL. The parathyroid glands, hypercalcemia, and hypocalcemia. In Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 266.

Update Date: 5/7/2014

Updated by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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