Hyperparathyroidism (or primary hyperparathyroidism) is the overproduction of parathyroid hormone by one or more of the pea-sized parathyroid glands in the neck.
The parathyroid hormone (PTH) regulates the level of calcium and phosphorus in the body by triggering the bones to release calcium, which increases calcium absorption by the kidneys and the intestines. Normally, PTH fluctuates during the day to keep the levels of calcium steady.
The overproduction of PTH steals calcium from your bones. The bones weaken and put you at greater risk for bone fractures. Hyperparathyroidism has serious health risks. Left undiagnosed, it can lead to bone disease, kidney stones, gastrointestinal disorders, and cognitive difficulties. The condition primarily affects postmenopausal women and its symptoms are rarely noticed.
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High blood calcium can cause you to feel tired and irritable, and have aches and pains that are also indications of many other conditions. Typically hyperparathyroidism is detected during a blood test for another condition. The blood will have elevated levels of calcium.
However, 80% of hyperparathyroidism cases do not have any symptoms. An experienced endocrinologist will help to determine the best course of action after a diagnosis of hyperparathyroidism.
Causes of Hyperparathyroidism
The majority of primary hyperparathyroidism cases are the result of a single benign tumor. In a minor number of cases the condition is caused by one or more enlarged parathyroid glands. In less than 0.5% of cases, cancer is the cause of hyperparathyroidism.
Parathyroid surgery (parathyroidectomy) cures 95% of primary hyperparathyroid cases (surgeons cannot locate the source of 5% of parathyroid tumours). When the disease occurs, it tends to show up in people over the age of 50. Only a small percentage of the diseases are genetic and most cases are diagnosed when treating other conditions.
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