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Hypercalcemia - discharge

When You Were 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. Certain kinds of cancers, problems with some glands, too much vitamin D, and being on bed rest for a long time can cause your blood calcium level to get too high.

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 also. If your hypercalcemia is caused by a gland problem, you may have had surgery to remove the gland.

Self-care

You may need to drink a lot of liquids. Ask your doctor how much. To be sure you get enough to drink:

  • Fill up a gallon jug or 4 one-liter bottles with water and keep them in the refrigerator.
  • 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 to not eat them at all for a while.

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

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 okay. Ask your doctor what medicines and herbs are safe to take.

Your doctor will want you to come in for a follow-up appointment. You will probably also need to get blood tests after you go home.

Try to stay active when you get home. Your doctor will tell you how much activity and exercise are okay.

You may need to take medicines to help keep your calcium level from getting too high again. Take these the way your doctor tells you to. Call your doctor if you have any side effects.

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

National Cancer Institute. Hypercalcemia (PDQ). December 8, 2008. Accessed May 22, 2010.

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.


Review Date: 6/5/2012
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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