What Are the Causes of Calcium Deposits on the Lungs?

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Your doctor believes you may have a calcium deposit (or calcification) on or in your lung. He may also use the term: 'pulmonary calcification'. While calcium deposits in the lung are usually benign (non-cancerous), they can become malignant. Calcium deposits should be monitored both to prevent cancer, and because many of the conditions that cause calcification are also serious.

What are Calcium Deposits?

Calcium deposits are small accumulations of calcium, which can accumulate anywhere in your body. These create bone spurs, kidney and gall stones, and, in the shoulder, tendonitis. Many calcium deposits don't require medical treatment (they can even be reabsorbed right back into your body). In the lungs, however, they can be a sign that you have a serious underlying condition that is causing them to form.

Symptoms of Calcium Deposits in the Lungs

Symptoms include increasing difficulty in breathing (particularly after what may have seemed like a normal cold), faster-than-normal breathing (tachypnea), wheezing, a cough that sounds 'tight' and dry, loss of appetite and cyanosis (a blueish color evident in facial skin or lips).

Diagnosing a Calcium Deposit

Most calcium deposits in the lungs are discovered by accident (often during a chest x-ray done for other reasons). A CT scan is better at detecting deposits than an MRI. You may also need a variety of imaging tests, possibly including chest radiography, computed tomographic scans and bone scintigraphy. A biopsy may also be needed.

What Causes Calcium Deposits?

Many things can contribute to a calcium deposit forming in the lungs. Infections (chronic bronchitis and pneumonia), tuberculosis, previous lung injuries, histoplasmosis (a fungal infection), long-time asbestos exposure and chronic kidney disease (which can create high levels of calcium in your blood) are all possible causes.

Other Factors

Other factors are endocrine gland problems (where your body develops difficulty in processing calcium), hypercalcemia (elevated calcium levels in the blood), enhanced alkaline phosphatase activity, active angiogenesis and rare disorders like sarcoidosis or amyloidosis.

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