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What is primary hyperparathyroidism?
Your parathyroid glands produce
parathyroid hormone (PTH). Primary hyperparathyroidism is when one or more of the
parathyroid glands makes too much PTH. This can lead to bone tissue loss. This condition
is more common in women than in men.
PTH keeps blood calcium levels from
going too low. It does this by releasing calcium from bones. The hormone also conserves
calcium that would be given off by the kidneys. And it increases how much calcium is
absorbed from food. Too much PTH causes too much calcium to be released from bone. And
the level of calcium in your blood rises.
What causes primary hyperparathyroidism?
In some cases, no cause can be
found. Some known causes include noncancer (benign) tumors on the parathyroid glands, or
enlargement of the glands. When there is a benign tumor in a parathyroid gland, it is
called a parathyroid adenoma. When more than one gland becomes enlarged, it is called
parathyroid hyperplasia. Both of these conditions are noncancer.
What are the symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism?
Each person may experience symptoms
differently. Symptoms of too much calcium in the blood may include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Joint pain
- Kidney pain (due to the presence of kidney stones)
- Lack of energy and extreme tiredness
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle weakness
Other serious symptoms may include:
- Belly pain
- Memory loss
The symptoms of primary
hyperparathyroidism may look like other health problems. Always talk with your
healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is primary hyperparathyroidism diagnosed?
The condition may not have any symptoms or complications. Sometimes this problem is found during a routine blood test as part of a physical exam.
You'll likely have additional blood
tests done to check the levels of calcium and PTH. You'll also probably have urine tests
to check on the level of calcium in your urine and to check your kidney function. Your
healthcare provider may want you to have a sestamibi scan or ultrasound study of your
neck. This could detect a parathyroid adenoma. You may also have dual X-ray
absorptiometry. This test is also called bone densitometry. It is done to determine bone
density and to reveal loss of bone tissue (as can occur with hyperparathyroidism.) It is
also used to help your healthcare provider to keep an eye on the condition. Testing can
also help decide if surgery may be needed.
How is primary hyperparathyroidism treated?
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Surgery to remove the affected
gland may be needed. Treatment may include regular bone densitometry testing to reveal
loss of bone tissue.
Key points about primary hyperparathyroidism
- Primary hyperparathyroidism is when
one or more of the parathyroid glands makes too much hormone. This can lead to bone
- This condition is more common in women than in men.
- Some known causes include noncancer
(benign) tumors on the parathyroid glands or enlargement of the glands.
- Symptoms include loss of appetite,
increased thirst, frequent urination, lack of energy and extreme tiredness (fatigue),
muscle weakness, joint pain, constipation, and kidney pain
- Treatment may include regular bone
densitometry testing to reveal bone tissue loss and to decide if surgery may be
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your healthcare provider tells you.
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
- Know how you can contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.
Online Medical Reviewer:
John Hanrahan MD
Online Medical Reviewer:
Online Medical Reviewer:
Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed:
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