Hyperparathyroidism is when the parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). This can happen when one or more of your parathyroids become enlarged or hyperplastic. Excess PTH causes blood calcium levels to rise and may lead to other health problems. In most cases, hyperparathyroidism occurs because of a benign tumor in one or more parathyroid glands. However, other causes include primary hyperparathyroidism, which is not linked with any other disease process; secondary hyperparathyroidism (HPT), which may occur after certain types of surgery; and tertiary hyperparathyroidism (HPT), which results from chronic kidney disease.
What is hyperparathyroidism?
Hyperparathyroidism is a disease in which too much parathyroid hormone (PTH) circulates in the blood. PTH is a hormone that regulates calcium levels in the body. When you have hyperparathyroidism, your parathyroids produce too much PTH, and your bones lose calcium, leading to osteoporosis. This can lead to bone fractures or even broken bones, as well as other health problems such as kidney stones, muscle weakness, and fatigue.
While many treatments are available for treating this disease–including surgery–some are better than others at controlling symptoms while minimizing side effects like bone loss or kidney damage.
What happens when too much parathyroid hormone (PTH) is circulating in my body?
Too much circulating parathyroid hormone (PTH) can cause high calcium levels in your blood, leading to serious health problems. PTH regulates calcium and phosphate levels in the body, but too much circulating PTH can result in hyperparathyroidism.
When there is too much PTH circulating in your system, this causes your kidneys to excrete more calcium than normal. This results in an imbalance between bone resorption (removing old bone cells) and new bone formation by osteoblasts (bone-building cells). This leads to low bone density or osteoporosis, increasing your risk of fractures such as hip or vertebral compression fractures (breaking). The excess calcium absorbed into soft tissues may also contribute to kidney stones and cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery calcification (hardening).
How does hyperparathyroidism occur?
The most familiar cause of hyperparathyroidism is an overactive parathyroid gland. The parathyroid glands are located behind the thyroid gland in the neck, and they regulate calcium levels in the blood. When you have hyperparathyroidism, one or more of your parathyroid glands produces too much PTH (parathyroid hormone), which causes your bones to release too much calcium into your bloodstream.
In rare cases, hyperparathyroidism can be caused by a tumor on one or more of your four parathyroids–these tumors are called parathyroid adenomas. It’s also possible for someone with no family history at all to develop this genetic condition over time through exposure to high levels of iodine; it’s thought that there may be some connection between iodine deficiency during pregnancy and developing this type later on as well when exposed again later in life during pregnancy or childhood via seafood consumption.
Causes of primary hyperparathyroidism
Primary hyperparathyroidism is a disorder of the parathyroid gland. The parathyroid glands are four tiny organs that sit on top of the thyroid gland, which produces hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, and development.
A tumor can cause primary hyperparathyroidism in the parathyroid gland. These tumors may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Many people with primary hyperparathyroidism have benign tumors called adenomas; some also have multiple adenomas on both sides of their necks.
The cause of many cases of primary hyperparathyroidism isn’t known; however, researchers believe it might result from inherited genetic changes that affect how cells work within the parathyroid gland or other tissues throughout our bodies — for example:
What are the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism?
Tenderness in the neck
Tiredness, weakness, and fatigue
Depression and mood swings, including irritability or anxiety. You may experience these symptoms even if you don’t have a history of depression.
Nausea, vomiting, and constipation are also common with hyperparathyroidism because they’re caused by low calcium levels in the blood (hypocalcemia).
How is hyperparathyroidism diagnosed?
To diagnose hyperparathyroidism, your doctor will perform a blood test to measure the parathyroid hormone (PTH) level. If this is elevated, it means that you have an overactive parathyroid gland.
Routine urine tests can also check for high calcium levels in your blood and determine if you have hyperparathyroidism. A simple X-ray may be done on an area around your neck called “laryngeal prominence,” which holds one of these glands–if it shows up as enlarged, then this would suggest hyperparathyroidism.
A nuclear medicine scan can detect whether any abnormal tissue exists within a structure or organ, such as your thyroid gland; however, this type of scan isn’t always necessary if other tests show no signs of disease elsewhere in the body (elevated PTH levels).
How is hyperparathyroidism treated?
The treatment of hyperparathyroidism depends on the cause and severity of your condition. Your doctor will discuss the best option for you with you.
If your parathyroid glands are removed, it’s called a parathyroidectomy. Surgery is usually an option if you have only one or two abnormal parathyroid glands that can be easily seen by imaging tests such as ultrasound or X-ray (radiography). The surgeon will incision behind each earlobe and remove the gland(s) through this opening to avoid damage to nearby nerves or blood vessels that could cause long-term side effects like facial paralysis or numbness in fingers/toes due to nerve injury respectively.
Uses high-energy waves such as gamma rays from radioactive sources outside your body (external beam radiation therapy) or isotopes placed inside tumors (brachytherapy). Radiation therapy may also be used if surgery isn’t possible because there aren’t enough healthy cells left after previous treatments, such as radioactive iodine therapy, have damaged healthy tissue too much.
Can hyperparathyroidism be prevented?
There is no way to prevent hyperparathyroidism. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing it:
Avoid smoking and alcohol. These can increase the risk of hyperparathyroidism.
Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and get enough calcium and vitamin D in your daily routine. If you don’t get enough calcium from food sources, talk with your doctor about supplements and other hyperparathyroidism treatments (see below). But only take vitamin D supplements after consulting your doctor first because too much may cause kidney damage or calcification of soft tissue (e.g., heart valves).
If you suspect that you have hyperparathyroidism, it’s best to consult with your doctor. They will be able to determine whether or not this is the case and what treatment plan is best for you.