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Hyperparathyroidism is a condition in which the parathyroid glands produce an excess amount of hormones. The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized bodies that are behind the thyroid gland within the neck. They release hormones that regulate the amount of calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus within the body. There are three forms of hyperparathyroidism:

  • Primary: Caused by an enlargement of one or more of the parathyroid glands. This can be caused by a benign growth (adenoma), an enlargement (hyperplasia), or very rarely, a malignant tumor.
  • Secondary: Occurs as a result of additional medical conditions that have decreased the amount of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus over time, such as chronic kidney failure or a deficiency.
  • Tertiary: Usually the result of prolonged secondary hyperparathyroidism. The parathyroid gland is unable to regulate hormones that create calcium, leading to overproduction (hypercalcaemia).

Risk Factors for Hyperparathyroidism 

The risk of developing hyperparathyroidism can increase for those who:

  • Are of increased age
  • Have previous exposure to radiation in the neck
  • Have pre-existing conditions such as malabsorption, kidney failure and vitamin D or calcium deficiencies
  • Taking lithium, a medication used to treat bipolar disorder

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Hyperparathyroidism 

Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, and some patients may not recognize them. These symptoms include:

  • Aching bones and joints
  • Increased urination
  • Kidney stones
  • Weak bones that easily break or fracture
  • Depression
  • Confusion or memory issues
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue

Lack of timely treatment of primary hyperparathyroidism can lead to complications including osteoporosis, kidney stones, cardiovascular disease and neonatal hypoparathyroidism. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, it’s important to consult with your primary care physician.

To diagnose hyperparathyroidism, your primary care physician will perform blood tests to determine your calcium level, PTH (parathyroid hormone) levels and possibly your 25 vitamin D level. They may also request additional diagnostic tests such as urinalysis, a bone density test or imaging of the kidney. For patients who require surgery, your care team will take an ultrasound of the neck, as well as a parathyroid scan.  

Treatment Options for Hyperparathyroidism 

Our team of board-certified endocrinologists provides thorough assessment and observation of your parathyroid in order to properly diagnose and determine if intervention is necessary. In cases of hyperparathyroidism which require surgery, our endocrine surgeons can perform a procedure to remove any growths or an affected gland.

For More Information

For more information on hyperparathyroidism, please call 847.663.8540.