What are the Most Common Hypercalcemia Causes?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 February 2019
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Typically, hypercalcemia causes include the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements, overactivity of the parathyroid glands, and certain medications, such as lithium. In addition, temporary hypercalcemia can be related to dehydration. Generally, when a person becomes dehydrated, there is less blood volume, resulting in higher levels of calcium concentration. This is a temporary condition, which often resolves itself when the person becomes re-hydrated, either by taking oral fluids, or by receiving intravenous fluids. Treatment for hypercalcemia is usually dependent upon the cause.

Sometimes, hypercalcemia causes can be related to cancer. Certain cancers, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, and certain blood cancers release proteins in the blood that simulate the actions of parathyroid hormones. This action can release calcium from the bones into the bloodstream. This condition is sometimes referred to as paraneoplastic syndrome, which is the body's response to substances that the cancer produces. In addition, metastasis, or spreading of a cancer to the bones can increase the risk of hypercalcemia.


Frequently, medications used to treat bipolar disorder can increase the release or presence of parathyroid hormone. This release can cause hypercalcemia, as can taking diuretics. Thiazide diuretics are "water pills" that are used to rid the body of excess water and lower blood pressure. Although these diuretics are effective in the treatment of edema and high blood pressure, they are one of the most common hypercalcemia causes. They can cause an increase blood calcium level by depleting calcium that is lost in the urine. Sometimes, when diuretic- induced hypercalcemia is severe, the physician may change medications to another type of diuretic.

Other diseases responsible for hypercalcemia may include tuberculosis and sarcoidosis. These diseases produce inflammation because of tissue injury. These tissue injuries are referred to as granulomas, which can elevate blood levels of calcitriol. Generally, increased calcitriol levels can cause the digestive system to absorb increased amounts of calcium, which may raise calcium levels in the blood. In addition, a genetic disorder called familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia can cause a rise in blood calcium because calcium receptors in the body do not work effectively.

Generally, the presence of hypercalcemia can be detected by a simple blood test, however, actual hypercalcemia causes may be more challenging to diagnose. Typically, diagnosis of hypercalcemia causes will be based on the patient's complete medical history, including medications being taken and presence of certain diseases. Many times, mild hypercalcemia will be asymptomatic, however, severe hypercalcemia may cause fatigue, lethargy, and confusion.


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Post 4

@Alisha: High blood calcium plus high parathyroid hormone levels in the blood points toward a benign tumor on the parathyroid. This can be removed. If left in place it damages your heart and kidneys. Please read about the parathyroid tumor!

Post 3

@alisha-- Yes, I have FHH. Don't worry, it's not that bad! If you do have it, it will be good to know the cause of your hypercalcemia. And it's really not a dangerous condition. You will need to take some tablet medication and get your calcium levels checked out once in a while. No big deal!

I've heard of people who had their parathyroids removed for no reason because their doctor never got them tested for FHH. You're lucky that your doctor is taking the time to get you checked out completely and has ordered for the FHH genetic test.

And you really don't need to worry if it comes back positive. It's not a difficult genetic condition to live with.

Post 2

I have had abnormally high blood calcium and parathyroid hormone levels for about a year. My doctor has run all sorts of tests on me to figure out the cause. I have not responded to any of the treatments. As far as I know, I don't have any illnesses and I'm not taking any medications that could be causing it.

My doctor said that there is one last test he wants me to go through, to see if I have FHH (Familial Hypocalciuric Hypercalcemia). It's a genetic test. If this also comes back negative, he said I might have to have my parathyroids removed as the last resort hypercalcemia treatment.

I'm really worried about both options. I don't know what to think or what to do if it comes back positive. Does anyone here have FHH?

Post 1

I was on a thiazide medication for my high blood pressure. It was working really well and doing what it was supposed to do. But when I went back to see my doctor with hypercalcemia symptoms, mainly fatigue, they ran some blood tests and saw that my calcium levels had shot up.

First I tried a lower dose of the medication and that did reduce calcium levels but my blood pressure went up too. So I finally had to switch to another medication.

It's too bad that thiazides cause hypercalcemia because I found it to be very effective for high blood pressure. Of course, I couldn't ignore my high calcium levels to treat my BP.

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