Hypercalcemia is a condition that affects many people over the course of a lifetime. In most instances, it is a condition that manifests itself as a chronic, but mild calcium level elevation. Although emergencies can happen because of acutely high calcium levels, in most instances, the regulation of calcium is highly regulated by the body.
This is because calcium can affect virtually every organ system within the body.
About half of the total calcium that a person has at any given time is bound by proteins. This means calcium levels can vary based on the binding capacities of that protein. For most people, the cause of hypercalcemia is hyperparathyroidism. It can also be caused by a malignancy. These two issues account for 9 out of every 10 diagnosed cases of hypercalcemia.
It can also be caused by certain medications, intoxication of Vitamin A or Vitamin D, or a variety of syndromes and diseases. Acute renal failure is also known to cause hypercalcemia.
When hypercalcemia causes polydipsia, then the end result can be the development of nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.
What Is Polydipsia and Why Is It Related to Hypercalcemia?
Polydipsia is a thirst that is abnormal and excessive. It is one of the initial symptoms of diabetes because the body is triggered by high levels of a specific substance that it is trying to remove. When considering hypercalcemia diabetes insipidus, the body is trying to dilute the calcium levels that are inappropriate.
Calcium, as part of its electrolyte functioning with potassium and sodium, helps to maintain a balanced circulatory system that supports organ health. Calcium is often stored in the bones, but it is also carried in muscle cells and the bloodstream. This is why hypercalcemia has the potential to affect so much of the human body.
When there are consistently high levels of calcium present, one of the first organs to be affected by the condition is the kidneys. It causes the kidneys to stop responding as they should to the vasopressin, an anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) produced by the body. Instead of concentrating the urine that is produced in times of low fluid levels, the kidneys keep pulling fluids out of the bloodstream.
This causes an individual to experience excessive thirst. When added to the thirst already present because of the hypercalcemia, an individual may drink several liters of water or fluids every day, producing up to 15 liters of urine daily in extreme incidents.
How Is Hypercalcemia Diabetes Insipidus Treated?
For many individuals, there are two points of emphasis which must be addressed when treating diabetes insipidus that is caused by high calcium levels. There must be a determination as to why there are inappropriate calcium levels in the first place. Then kidney health must also be addressed so that they respond to the ADH being produced in a more appropriate manner if possible.
For most individuals, that means treating the hyperparathyroidism that is causing the condition to be present in the first place. Surgery is the most common treatment option in this instance. It provides a cure in up to 95% of cases, according to information published by the Mayo Clinic, and only the glands that are enlarged or have a tumor will be addressed. It is often provided as an outpatient procedure.
Some medications may also be prescribed, depending on the nature of the condition. Certain drugs called “calcimimetics” can mimic the calcium that circulates in the blood, which can sometimes trick the parathyroid glands to release fewer hormones. It is also possible for hormone replacement therapies to produce results that can lessen the bothersome signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia diabetes insipidus.
For older individuals, a treatment plan may also include bisphosphonates so that calcium loss from the bones can be prevented.
Certain home remedies may also be recommended, especially if the diabetes insipidus is considered to be directly related to high calcium levels. You may be asked to drink more water so that clear urine can be produced, which will reduce the chances of kidney stone formation. Getting more exercise can help the body regulate electrolyte levels more effectively as well.
Dietary changes may also be recommended, including low-salt foods and limiting certain vitamins, to decrease bothersome symptoms. If you are a smoker, you will be asked to quit.
In many instances, hypercalcemia diabetes insipidus can be successfully treated by addressing the root cause of the high calcium levels. Speak with your medical provider to discuss ways to prevent complications or treat this condition successfully so that you can continue to live a happy and healthy life.