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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Hyperparathyroidism

Hyperparathyroidism is a condition wherein the parathyroid glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone (PTH).

The parathyroid gland

The parathyroid gland is located close to the thyroid gland near the neck area. Its purpose is to produce parathyroid hormone, a chemical released by cells in the body that controls calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D levels in the blood and bone.

What are the types of hyperparathyroidism?

There are two main types of hyperparathyroidism: primary and secondary.

Primary hyperparathyroidism happens when one or more of the parathyroid glands is enlarged. Once the parathyroid gland gets bigger, this leads to increased parathyroid hormone production, causing the level of calcium in the blood to rise.

Secondary hyperparathyroidism, on the other hand, takes place when the body produces extra parathyroid hormone to compensate for low calcium levels. This happens when vitamin D levels are low or when calcium is not absorbed from the intestines.

Correcting the calcium level and the underlying problem leading to over- or under-production of parathyroid hormones will bring the parathyroid levels in the normal range.

What are the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism?

An individual may have hyperparathyroidism if he or she experiences the following symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness

Consistently high levels of calcium could have implications such as:

  • Kidney stones
  • Bone loss leading to osteoporosis

In most cases, the patient may dismiss the symptoms. However, a routine blood test will be helpful in determining the level of calcium.

What causes hyperparathyroidism?

The likelihood of hyperparathyroidism increases if the patient has the following conditions:

  • Parathyroid hyperplasia (excessive growth of normal parathyroid cells)
  • Parathyroid cancer (rare)
  • Benign tumors in the parathyroid glands
  • Certain endocrine disorders, such as Types I and II multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes (rare)

How is hyperparathyroidism evaluated?

There is no known way to prevent this disorder, but tests concerning blood chemistry showing calcium levels and amount of parathyroid hormones present in the blood are necessary to diagnose this disorder.

What is the treatment?

Surgery to remove one or more of the parathyroid glands is very successful in treating primary hyperparathyroidism.

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