Medications That Mess With Your Calcium

assortment of medicines
Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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The word “calcium” makes people think of bones, and here’s why: over 99% of the calcium present in an adult is found in the skeleton. In addition to bone structure, however, calcium is critical for many bodily functions including nerve transmission, blood clotting and coagulation, and muscle contraction.

Calcium is complicated. Calcium in the bloodstream is the measured calcium level seen on your lab results and it depends on the amount leaked from bones and movement across the intestines and kidneys. Your blood calcium level is controlled by changes in levels of two hormones: parathyroid hormone (PTH) and the active form of vitamin D called calcitriol.

A little complex, but here is the moral of the story. Your body needs just the right amount of calcium to function properly. Several medications are also known to mess with your calcium level, so here’s what you need to know.  

High calcium levels in your bloodstream (hypercalcemia)

First off, what are the symptoms of hypercalcemia? If the elevated calcium in your bloodstream occurs suddenly and is severe, it may cause dramatic symptoms like confusion, sleepiness and even death. Hypercalcemia affects nearly every organ system in the body but the more common symptoms include weakness and confusion, frequent urination, kidney stones, constipation, nausea, and lack of appetite.

Here are some medications that cause high calcium levels:

Low calcium levels in your bloodstream (hypocalcemia)

What are the signs of hypocalcemia? Think of hypocalcemia as causing neuromuscular irritability. Common complaints are numbness and tingling sensations around the mouth or in the fingers and toes. Muscle cramps, particularly in the back and lower extremities may progress to spasms in your hands and feet. Less common symptoms include wheezing, problems swallowing, irritability, depression, and fatigue.

Here are some medications that cause hypocalcemia:

Dr. O

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