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Hypercalcemia
(Elevated Calcium Levels)

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Hypercalcemia at a glance

  • Calcium is important for bone strength, as well as muscle and nerve function
  • Calcium levels in the bloodstream are regulated by PTH, vitamin D, and calcitonin
  • Hypercalcemia can vary in severity and in chronicity
  • The main cause of hypercalcemia is hyperparathyroidism
  • Malignancies may be associated with hypercalcemia, and the presence of hypercalcemia usually heralds a worse prognosis
  • The signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia can be remembered by the phrase "moans, stones, groans, and bones."
  • Treatment depends on the underlying cause of hypercalcemia as well as the degree of severity
  • Both surgical and medical treatments are available as treatment options
  • Prognosis depends on the underlying cause of hypercalcemia

Hypercalcemia Introduction

Calcium is a mineral that is important in the regulation and processes of many body functions including bone formation, hormone release, muscle contraction, and nerve and brain function. Hypercalcemia is the term that refers to elevated levels of calcium in the bloodstream.

Regulation of Calcium

Calcium levels are tightly regulated in the body. Calcium regulation is primarily controlled by parathyroid hormone (PTH), vitamin D, and calcitonin.

  • Parathyroid hormone is a hormone produced by the parathyroid glands, which are four small glands that surround the thyroid and are found in the anterior part of the lower neck.
  • Vitamin D is obtained through a process that begins with sun exposure to the skin, the process then continues in the liver and kidneys. Vitamin D can also be found in foods such as eggs and dairy products.
  • Calcitonin is produced in specialized cells in the thyroid gland.

Together, these three hormones act on the bones, the kidneys, and the GI tract to regulate calcium levels in the bloodstream.

Picture of the Parathyroid Glands
Picture of the Parathyroid Glands
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/9/2014

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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/hypercalcemia/article.htm

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