This month we are writing about parathyroid disease, also known as hyperparathyroidism. It can occur when your parathyroid glands become overactive and begin pumping out high quantities of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Because PTH regulates the amount of calcium in your blood, an increase in the hormone equals an increase in calcium, a condition called hypercalcemia.
Our experienced team here at Palmetto Endocrinology diagnoses and treats hyperparathyroidism and can help you resolve your symptoms, usually through nutrition and medication.
Unfortunately, many people suffer from parathyroid disease and don’t even know it. That’s why we’ve listed several possible symptoms below to help you spot the signs so you can come see us right away for an accurate diagnosis and prompt, quality care.
Consequences of too much PTH
When your parathyroid kicks into overdrive and produces too much PTH, it triggers your body to make and retain more calcium.
Your body complies by robbing calcium from your bones and releasing it into your bloodstream (weakening your bones), causing your digestive tract to absorb more calcium (causing acid reflux), and signaling your kidneys to hang onto calcium rather than flushing it out (which may lead to kidney stones).
Signs of hyperparathyroidism
Some people have no symptoms — or don’t realize they have symptoms — of parathyroid disease, many have four or five classic symptoms, and others have multiple symptoms associated with an overactive parathyroid.
It’s important to note that symptoms aren’t dependent on the amount of calcium in your blood, but rather the length of time your blood calcium levels stay above the normal range of 8.6-10.2 milligrams per deciliter. Even if your total blood calcium is only mildly elevated, you may suffer the effects, including any of the following:
- General malaise
- Trouble sleeping
- Acid reflux
- Lack of concentration
- Intense need to nap
- Achy joints
- Memory loss
- Kidney stones
- Hair loss
- Low libido
- High blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Bone pain
Some of these symptoms only appear if you’ve been living with hyperparathyroidism for years, and some show up sooner. Because these symptoms can also indicate a number of other conditions, it’s important to have our team run appropriate tests on your blood, bone density, and neck to rule out other diseases and arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
Complications of parathyroid disease
Left untreated, hyperparathyroidism can lead to come severe conditions, including:
Fortunately, there are effective treatments to get your parathyroid back in control. For many people, the condition improves with simple changes in diet, including nutritional supplements. Medications may also restore proper blood calcium levels.
In severe cases, it may be best to remove your parathyroid to resolve the problem. If this becomes necessary, our team will refer you to a Head and Neck surgeon. They will skillfully perform a minimally invasive procedure.
If you’ve been feeling generally unwell and have some of the symptoms we’ve listed, we encourage you to come in for some tests to find out if your parathyroid may be the culprit. Schedule an appointment online or call us today.