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Calcium is the most abundant and one of the most important minerals in the body. It is essential for cell signaling and the proper functioning of muscles, nerves, and the heart. Calcium is needed for blood clotting and is crucial for the formation, density, and maintenance of bones. This test measures the amount of calcium in the blood or urine.
About 99% of calcium is found complexed in the bones, while the remaining 1% circulates in the blood. Calcium levels are tightly controlled; if there is too little absorbed or ingested, or if there is excess loss through the kidney or gut, calcium is taken from bone to maintain blood concentrations. Roughly half of the calcium in the blood is "free" and is metabolically active. The remaining half is "bound" to albumin, with a smaller amount complexed to anions, such as phosphate, and these bound and complexed forms are metabolically inactive.
There are two tests to measure blood calcium. The total calcium test measures both the free and bound forms. The ionized calcium test measures only the free, metabolically active form.
Total Calcium; Ionized Calcium; Calcium.
Kidney Stones; Bone Disease; thyroid disease; parathyroid disorder; malabsorption; cancer ; malnutrition; Multiple Myloma.
To screen for, diagnose, and monitor a range of conditions. As part of a routine metabolic panel; when you have symptoms of a disorder, or known presence of one, affecting your kidneys, bones, thyroid, parathyroid, or nerves or when symptoms of significantly increased or decreased calcium concentrations are present; when someone is critically ill, to monitor ionized calcium levels; when someone has certain types cancer; when someone is being treated for abnormal calcium levels, to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.
A blood calcium test is often ordered when a person undergoes a general medical examination. It is typically included in the comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) and the basic metabolic panel (BMP), two sets of tests that may be used during an initial evaluation or as part of a routine health screening.
Many people do not have symptoms of high or low calcium until their levels are very out of range. A health practitioner may order a calcium test when someone has:
Kidney disease, because low calcium is especially common in those with kidney failure.
Symptoms of high calcium such as fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, urinary frequency, and increased thirst Symptoms of very low calcium such as abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, or tingling fingers.
Other diseases that have been associated with abnormal blood calcium such as thyroid disease, parathyroid disorder, malabsorption, cancer, or malnutrition An ionized calcium test may be ordered when someone has numbness around the mouth and in the hands and feet and muscle spasms in the same areas. These can be symptoms of low levels of ionized calcium. However, when calcium levels fall slowly, many people have no symptoms at all.
Calcium monitoring may be necessary when a person has certain kinds of cancer (particularly breast, lung, head and neck, kidney, or multiple myeloma), has kidney disease, or has had a kidney transplant. Monitoring may also be necessary when someone is being treated for abnormal calcium levels to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments such as calcium or vitamin D supplements.
A urine calcium test may be ordered when someone has symptoms of kidney stones, such as a sharp pain in the person's side or back around the kidneys, pain that may progress to lower in the abdomen, and/or blood in the urine.