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Hypercalcemia - discharge

Alternative Names

Hypercalcemia; Transplant - hypercalcemia; Transplantation - hypercalcemia; Cancer treatment - hypercalcemia

When You're in the Hospital

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 health care provider's instructions about making sure your calcium level does not get high again.

You may need to drink a lot of liquids.

  • Make sure you drink as much water every day as your provider 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 provider 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 (such as cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream) or DO NOT eat them at all.
  • If your provider says you can eat dairy foods, DO NOT eat those that have extra calcium added. Read the labels carefully.

To further keep your calcium level from getting high again:

  • DO NOT use antacids that have a lot of calcium in them. Look for antacids that have magnesium. Ask your provider 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 you're told to. Call your doctor if you have any side effects.
  • Stay active when you get home. Your provider 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 provider.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Nausea and 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

Leone KA. Calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In: Adams JG, ed. Emergency Medicine: Clinical Essentials. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 166.

Smogorzewski MJ, Stubbs JR, Yu ASL. Disorders of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. In: Skorecki K, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Taal MW, Yu ASL, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 19.

Thakker RV. The parathyroid glands, hypercalcemia, and hypocalcemia. In Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016: chap 245.


Review Date: 3/13/2016
Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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