New Dialysis Patients: Watch Out for Hypercalcemia


If you're new to managing kidney disease and arranging your schedule for dialysis, you know it requires some major lifestyle changes.

But if you're eating right, limiting sodium, potassium, and phosphorus in your diet, and getting enough protein, you're good, right? Maybe. But patients new to dialysis treatment for kidney disease have a higher risk for developing a condition known as hypercalcemia. And it often goes undiagnosed.

If you have hypercalcemia, you have more calcium in your blood than you should. It can take a toll on any remaining kidney function you have left. Hypercalcemia can also weaken your bones, cause kidney stones, lead to heart problems, and interfere with brain function. It's even been linked to early death, according to a recent study at the University of California.

Know the warning signs

  • Excessive thirst and frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort such as constipation, vomiting, and nausea
  • Brittle or weak bones, and bone pain
  • Brain-related problems like confusion, fatigue, and lethargy

If you're a dialysis patient and you think you might have high calcium levels, talk to your doctor. A test to measure calcium levels in your blood is the best way to find out if you have hypercalcemia. And you want to find out sooner than later, to prevent further complications. Left unchecked or undiagnosed, researchers found that hypercalcemia can increase your mortality risk by about 73 percent.

Medication can help control or treat hypercalcemia. Sticking to a Dialysis-Friendly diet can help, too. And it doesn't have to be complicated. We've created 48 meals, entrees, and snacks made with fresh ingredients, especially for people on dialysis. Pick your favorites and enjoy.