Calcium is a necessary mineral for bone health. In certain conditions, however, calcium may form small growths in the lungs or other organs. When a calcium growth appears in the lungs, it is called a pulmonary granuloma, according to MayoClinic.com. A number of different medical conditions can result in pulmonary granulomas, or they may appear in some patients due to age. If you are having respiratory problems, always check with your doctor.
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A pulmonary granuloma is a small area of inflammation in the lung, according to MayoClinic.com. Often, a granuloma becomes calcified, storing up extra calcium and leading to calcium deposits in the lungs. In rare cases, the cartilage in the lungs also collects calcium and becomes hardened or ossified, according to the "Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine," though this condition is more common in cats than in humans, according to PetMD.
Pulmonary granulomas may be caused by a number of diseases or injuries. The most common cause is histoplasmosis, an airborne infection. Many people with histoplasmosis never develop symptoms of the disease. Calcium deposits in the lungs may also be caused by sarcoidosis, according to the "Journal of the American Medical Association." Hypercalcemia, or having too much calcium in the body, may also result in calcium deposits in the lungs and other organs, according to the "American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine."
Pulmonary granulomas are generally not cancerous and do not produce symptoms, though an underlying condition like sarcoidosis may cause symptoms. Often, you won't even know you have a pulmonary granuloma until it appears on a chest X-ray or scan taken for another purpose, according to MayoClinic.com. Unless the granuloma is fully calcified, it may resemble a tumor or other dangerous condition on the X-ray or scan. Often, your doctor will order additional testing to ensure you have a granuloma and not cancer or another condition.
Treatment of calcium deposits in the lungs is usually designed to treat the underlying cause of the calcium deposits. For instance, patients who have ossification of the lung cartilage or pulmonary granulomas from sarcoidosis may be given steroids to help break up the calcium deposits in the lungs. Patients with histoplasmosis may be treated with an antifungal medication, especially if the histoplasmosis and granulomas exist alongside a chronic respiratory disease, according to MayoClinic.com.
If you have shortness of breath, pain while breathing, or are coughing up blood, see your physician as soon as possible, or call emergency services if necessary. While most calcium deposits in the lungs are not dangerous, some, including those left by sarcoidosis and tuberculosis, can eat away at the blood vessels inside the lungs, causing internal bleeding and impairing the body's ability to use the oxygen the lungs inhale, according to the National Institutes of Health and the "Journal of the American Medical Association."