Hyperparathyroidism occurs when one
or more of your parathyroid glands are overactive. You have four of these tiny glands.
Each one is about the size of a pea. They are found in your neck, next to the thyroid
gland. They keep the amount of calcium in your blood in a normal range. They also keep
the levels of magnesium and phosphorus normal. If these glands are overactive, they make
too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). That raises the level of calcium in your blood.
PTH causes calcium to be released
from your bones. This loss of calcium from the bones can lead to weak, brittle bones
(osteopenia and osteoporosis) and bone fractures. When the blood with this high calcium
goes through the kidneys, the calcium may be filtered into the urine. That can lead to
Hyperparathyroidism most often
happens when one of your parathyroid glands gets larger or has a tumor on it. The gland
then makes too much parathyroid hormone. Most people with this problem have one abnormal
gland. Some people may have two abnormal glands. A small number of people have four
abnormal glands. Having four abnormal glands is rare. It is often a genetic problem. In
most cases, if a tumor is causing the gland to be overactive, the tumor is not cancer
(benign). In rare cases, the tumor may be cancer.
You may be more likely to have hyperparathyroidism if:
Each person may have symptoms in a
different way. But these are the most common symptoms:
These symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
A blood test can often find hyperparathyroidism. It can spot high levels of calcium and parathyroid hormone. You may also need a urine test. This can measure the calcium in your urine over 24 hours.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on
how severe the condition is.
You will likely need to have your
calcium and vitamin D levels and bone density checked from time to time. Your healthcare
provider will then be able to make sure your problem is under control.
Tell your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider: