Hyperparathyroidism

Marsh

Hyperparathyroidism

 

Hyperparathyroidism is when your parathyroid glands create too much parathyroid hormone in the bloodstream. These glands are located behind the thyroid at the bottom of your neck and are about the size of a grain of rice.

The parathyroid glands produce parathyroid hormone. This hormone helps maintain an appropriate balance of calcium in the bloodstream and in tissues that depend on calcium for proper functioning.

Two types of hyperparathyroidism exist. In primary hyperparathyroidism, an enlargement of one or more of the parathyroid glands causes overproduction of the hormone. This causes high calcium levels in the blood, which can cause a variety of

health problems. Surgery is the most common treatment for primary hyperparathyroidism.

Secondary hyperparathyroidism occurs due to another disease that first causes low calcium levels in the body. Over time, increased parathyroid hormone levels occur.

Symptoms

Hyperparathyroidism is often diagnosed before signs or symptoms of the disorder are apparent. When symptoms do occur, they're the result of damage or dysfunction in other organs or tissues due to high calcium levels in the blood and urine or too little calcium in bones.

Symptoms may be so mild and nonspecific that they don't seem related to parathyroid function, or they may be severe. The range of signs and symptoms include:

When to see a doctor to get help

Call for an appointment here at Palmetto Endocrinology if you have any signs or symptoms of hyperparathyroidism. These symptoms could be caused by any number of disorders, including some with serious complications. It's important to get a prompt, accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Causes

Hyperparathyroidism is caused by factors that increase the production of parathyroid hormone.

The parathyroid glands maintain proper levels of both calcium and phosphorus in your body by turning the secretion of parathyroid hormone (PTH) off or on, much like a thermostat controls a heating system to maintain a constant air temperature. Vitamin D also is involved in regulating the amount of calcium in your blood.

Normally, this balancing act works well. When calcium levels in your blood fall too low, your parathyroid glands secrete enough PTH to restore the balance. PTH raises calcium levels by releasing calcium from your bones and increasing the amount of calcium absorbed from your small intestine.

When blood-calcium levels are too high, the parathyroid glands produce less PTH. But sometimes one or more of these glands produce too much hormone. This leads to abnormally high calcium levels and low phosphorus levels in your blood.

Calcium is best known for its role in keeping your teeth and bones healthy. But calcium also aids in the transmission of signals in nerve cells, and it's involved in muscle contraction. Phosphorus, another mineral, works along with calcium in these areas.

Hyperparathyroidism may occur because of a problem with the parathyroid glands (primary hyperparathyroidism) or because of another disease that affects the glands' function (secondary hyperparathyroidism).

Primary hyperparathyroidism

Primary hyperparathyroidism occurs because of some problem with one or more of the four parathyroid glands:

Primary hyperparathyroidism usually occurs randomly, but some people inherit a gene that causes the disorder.

Secondary hyperparathyroidism

Secondary hyperparathyroidism is the result of another condition that lowers calcium levels. This causes your parathyroid glands to overwork to compensate for the calcium loss. Factors that may contribute to secondary hyperparathyroidism include:

Your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. You also consume some vitamin D in food. If you don't get enough vitamin D, then calcium levels may drop.

In some people with long-term end-stage kidney disease, the parathyroid glands enlarge and begin to release PTH on their own, and PTH doesn't go down with medical treatment. This is called tertiary hyperparathyroidism, and people with this condition may require surgery to remove parathyroid tissue.

Risk factors

You may be at an increased risk of primary hyperparathyroidism if you:

Complications

Complications of hyperparathyroidism are mainly related to the long-term effect of too little calcium in your bones and too much calcium in your bloodstream. Common complications include:

Prevention

Here are some ways to help prevent hyperparathyroidism.

 

We at Palmetto Endocrinology are trained to diagnose and treat hyperparathyroidism. Please make an appointment today to see if we may help you.

Author
Joseph W. Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph W. Mathews M.D., a board certified Endocrinologist and Medical Director of Palmetto Endocrinology, was born and raised in South Carolina. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the College of Charleston, Cum Laude. He then achieved his M.D. at the Medical University of South Carolina where he also completed his residency in Internal Medicine and a Fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism. Dr. Mathews is also a Fellow of both the American College of Endocrinology and the American College of Physicians, holds an Endocrine Certification in Neck Ultrasound (ECNU) and is a Certified Clinical Densitometrist (CCD). He has extensive experience performing ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration biopsies. His practice includes a range of specializations including prescribing and fitting patients with insulin pumps. Dr. Mathews' practice has drawn patients from out of state to benefit from his expertise in thyroid disorders, diabetes, cortisol problems and their Endocrine disorders.

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