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Definition Return to top
Milk-alkali syndrome is an acquired condition in which there are high levels of calcium (hypercalcemia) and a shift in the body's acid/base balance towards alkaline (metabolic alkalosis).
Causes Return to top
Milk-alkali syndrome is caused by excessive consumption of milk (which is high in calcium) and certain antacids, especially calcium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), over a long period of time.
Calcium deposits in the kidneys and other tissues can occur in milk-alkali syndrome. Consumption of vitamin D, which is often added to milk bought at the supermarket, can worsen this condition.
In the past, milk-alkali syndrome was often a side effect of treating peptic ulcer disease. It is rarely seen today, because newer, better medications are available for treating ulcers.
Symptoms Return to top
The condition often has no symptoms (asymptomatic). When symptoms do occur, they are often related to complications, such as kidney problems.
Exams and Tests Return to top
Calcium deposits within the tissue of the kidney (nephrocalcinosis) may be seen on:
Other tests used to make a diagnosis:
Treatment Return to top
Treatment involves reducing or eliminating milk and antacids. If severe kidney failure has occurred, the damage may be irreparable.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
This condition is often reversible if kidney function remains normal. Severe prolonged cases may lead to permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis.
Possible Complications Return to top
The most common complications include:
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Contact your health care provider if:
Prevention Return to top
Milk-alkali syndrome is now very uncommon because non-antacid treatments for indigestion, gastric ulcers, and peptic ulcer disease have replaced most excessive antacid use.
If you do use antacids often, don't drink large amounts of milk, and tell your doctor about your digestive problems.Update Date: 11/12/2007 Updated by: Charles Silberberg, D.O., Private Practice specializing in Nephrology, Affiliated with NY Medical College, Division of Nephrology, Valhalla, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.