What is hyperparathyroidism?

Hyperparathyroidism is the excessive production of parathyroid hormone by your parathyroid glands, which results in changes in your calcium and phosphorous levels. Parathyroid glands are located on or near the thyroid gland in your neck and are responsible for the regulation of calcium and phosphorous levels in your body. Despite the proximity of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, they serve distinct functions. Properly functioning parathyroid glands are required to sustain life. Fortunately, treatment is possible for overactive or underactive parathyroid glands.

Hyperparathyrodism Spotlight

Overactive parathyroid glands (primary hyperparathyroidism) signal your body to increase the level of calcium in the blood by decreasing your excretion of calcium. More seriously, calcium may be harvested from the calcium in your bones. Mild hyperparathyroidism can often be treated simply by increasing your fluid intake, though more serious hyperparathyroidism may require surgical removal of one of the over-functioning parathyroid glands.

High parathyroid levels are a normal body response to low blood calcium levels (known as secondary hyperparathyroidism). Renal (kidney) failure is the most common cause of secondary hyperparathyroidism.

Your physician or health care professional can easily and quickly determine your levels of calcium, phosphorous, and parathyroid hormone with a simple blood test. These tests can also determine what type of hyperparathyroidism (primary or secondary) you may have.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for hyperparathyroidism but have mild symptoms that recur or are persistent. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, including coma; change in behavior, such as confusion, hallucinations or delirium; or severe abdominal pain, as these could be signs of a life-threatening condition.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism?

Symptoms of hyperparathyroidism include effects on your bones due to absorption of calcium from bone, including brittle or weakened bones, bone pain, or lower back pain. Systemic symptoms related to hyperparathyroidism include thirst, increased urination, depression, personality changes, and loss of appetite, among others. Life-threatening symptoms associated with hyperparathyroidism include coma, stupor, or severe bone weakness and fractures.... Read more about hyperparathyroidismsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes hyperparathyroidism?

Primary hyperparathyroidism is caused by overproduction of parathyroid hormone. The cause the disease is not known in most cases. Rare causes of primary hyperparathyroidism include parathyroid cancer or inherited disorders.... Read more about hyperparathyroidismcauses

TREATMENTS

How is hyperparathyroidism treated?

Mild hyperparathyroidism may have only minor symptoms or no apparent symptoms at all. In these cases, you may be able to live normally with the condition, although regular visits to your physician to monitor your levels of calcium and parathyroid hormone are important. Secondary hyperparathyroidism usually resolves with treatment of the underlying cause of your low calcium levels.... Read more about hyperparathyroidismtreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Allergies and the Immune System