Can Too Much Calcium Be Harmful To Your Health?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is one of the essential mineral required by the body for the healthy functioning of the heart, muscles, and nerves. Calcium gives strength and structure to the bones. Basically, calcium is a fundamental part of the body and its importance is related to the functions it performs in bone mineralization.
We all are aware of the importance of calcium in the human body. But do you know that too much calcium can be harmful to your health??
Yes, too much calcium can be harmful. In medical terms, excessive calcium in the body is known as hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia is potentially life-threatening and is associated with hyperparathyroidism and other malignant diseases.
Hypercalcemia is classified into four different types:
1. Local osteolytic hypercalcemia - This type of hypercalcemia is found in patients with extensive skeletal involvement such as breast cancer and multiple myeloma.
2. Humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy - This type of hypercalcemia primarily results from the systemic secretion from parathyroid hormone-related peptide by squamous carcinoma of lung, esophagus, cervix, head and neck and other cancers such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and bladder cancer.
3. Vitamin D mediated hypercalcemia - This type occurs due to some lymphomas and ovarian dysgerminomas.
4. Ectopic secretion of an authentic parathyroid hormone by the tumor - It is an extremely rare cause of hypercalcemia and it occurs in people with cancer.
Parathyroid gland plays a key role in the regulation of extracellular calcium concentrations. Hypercalcemia results from the failure of renal calcium excretion to compensate increased influx of calcium into the circulation from the intestine, the kidney, and the skeleton. Parathyroid hormone regulates the renal capacity to reabsorb and it also activates the production of vitamin D which increases calcium reabsorption from the intestines.
Hypercalcemia and kidney stones
Hypercalcemia is one of the risk factors for developing kidney stones. Primary hyperparathyroidism is a disease which involves a wide range of alterations of calcium homeostasis. Kidney stones, also known as nephrolithiasis is one of the common problems of the urinary systems and these kidney stones are often painful. Kidney stones are associated with chronic kidney disease and the incidence of this disease is rising worldwide, especially in women. As the kidney stones travel within the urinary tract, it causes cramps and abdominal pain and it is accompanied by vomiting, nausea, fever, and chills.
Urine contains many dissolved minerals and salts and when these minerals increases, they cause kidney stones. Initially, these stones are small in size but with times, these stones can grow in size and to such an extent that it can even fill the hollow structure of the kidney. Some stones stay in the kidneys but some travel down the ureter and sometimes they get lodged in the ureter, it blocks the urine flow from the kidney and causes pain.
Most often, kidney stones can go undiagnosed and do not cause any symptom but when stones get lodged in the ureter, causes a lot of pain. Other symptoms that are associated with kidney stones include:
- Cramping pain in the back, side, and moves to the lower abdomen.
- An intense need to urinate
Hypercalcemia and pancreatitis
Pancreatitis is one of the common diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Gallstones are one of the most common causes of pancreatitis and these gallstones are the hard stones that form in the gallbladder. When a gallstone blocks the common bile duct, located in the small intestine, fluid can’t leave the pancreas and this backup of fluid causes pancreatitis.
Generally, it is believed that factors such as alcohol, trauma, infections and certain medications are the cause of pancreatitis. But, numerous studies suggest that there is a relationship between hypercalcemia and pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a serious and chronic disorder that causes severe pain in the upper abdomen and goes through the back. This severe pain is accompanied by fever, rapid pulse, fast breathing, tenderness, nausea, and vomiting.
Hypercalcemia and cardiomyopathy
Various studies suggest that cardiomyopathy can result from hypercalcemia. High calcium level in the body may trigger the symptoms of cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a heart muscle disease. It is a disease that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood normally and people who are affected by this disease are at increased risk of sudden cardiac death. Cardiomyopathy is of many types - hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, restrictive cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, and takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy is accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath, unexplained tiredness, dizziness, fainting, and fluid retention that results in swollen feet or ankles. Hypercalcemia is one of the causes of cardiomyopathy. Other factors that can cause cardiomyopathy include long term high blood pressure, heart tissue damage, connective tissue disorder, iron build up in the heart muscle and consumption of excessive alcohol for many years.
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