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Hypercalcemia - discharge

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

You were treated in the hospital for hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia means you have too much calcium in your blood. Now that you're going home, you need to keep your calcium at a level as instructed by your health care provider.

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.

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 intravenous (IV) line and medicines 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 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 don't eat them at all.
  • If your provider says you can eat dairy foods, don't eat those that have extra calcium added. Read the labels carefully.

To further keep your calcium level from getting high again:

  • Don't use antacids that have a lot of calcium in them. If needed, look for antacids that have magnesium. Ask your provider which ones are OK.
  • Ask your provider what medicines and herbs are safe for you to take.
  • If your provider prescribes medicines to help keep your calcium level from getting too high again, take them the way you're told to. Contact your provider 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

Contact your provider 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

Athonvarangkul D, Wysolmerski JJ. Malignancy-associated hypercalcemia. In: Robertson RP, ed. DeGroot's Endocrinology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 55.

Chonchol M, Smogorzewski MJ, Stubbs JR, Yu ASL. Disorders of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 18.

Thakker RV. The parathyroid glands, hypercalcemia, and hypocalcemia. In Goldman L, Cooney KA, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 27th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2024:chap 227.

 

Review Date: 3/31/2024

Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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