Hyperparathyroidism: What It Is and How It’s Treated

Hyperparathyroidism happen due to parathyroid glands are producing an excess of a hormone called parathyroid hormone, which in turn causes elevations in the levels of calcium circulating in the bloodstream. The parathyroid glands, on the other hand, produce a hormone that helps maintain the proper balance of calcium and phosphorus in your body.

Types of hyperparathyroidism are-

* Primary hyperparathyroidism- this is a disorder of the parathyroid glands.
* Secondary hyperparathyroidism- this is a problem such as kidney failure makes the body resistant to the action of parathyroid hormone.

In the United States, about 100,000 people develop the disorder each year. Women outnumber men two to one, and risk increases with age.

Causes

The most common cause of excess hormone production or hyperparathyroidism is the development of a benign tumor in one of the parathyroid glands. This enlargement of one parathyroid gland is called a parathyroid adenoma which accounts for about 95 percent of all patients with primary hyperparathyroidism. The vast majority of cases occur in people with no family history of the disorder. Only about 5 percent of cases can be linked to an inherited problem.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

* Aches
* Pains
* Depression
* Abdominal pain
* Nausea
* Vomiting
* Fatigue
* Excessive urination
* Confusion
* Muscle weakness
* poor memory
* Heartburn or abdominal pain from peptic ulcer disease or pancreatitis
* Kidney stones
* Increased thirst and urination due to increased excretion of calcium in the urine (hypercalciuria)

Treatment

Treatment depends on several factors, including which type of hyperparathyroidism you have. Surgery is the usual treatment for primary hyperparathyroidism. The glands are surgically removed through a small incision in the neck. The most common complications of this surgery are damage to the nerve supplying the vocal cords and low blood levels of calcium.

In hypercalcemia of malignancy (cancer), more specific therapy is required including a bisphosphonate, which lowers blood calcium levels.

Medicines can be an option for treating this illness, but this is not good for all of the symptoms of HPT. If you don’t have surgery, tests are needed from time to time to see if the disease is hurting your kidneys, bones or other body systems. Special machines can check your bone strength.

If the patient and doctor choose long term follow up, the patient should try to drink lots of water, get plenty of exercise, and avoid certain diuretics, such as the thiazides. Immobilization and gastrointestinal illness with vomiting or diarrhea can cause calcium levels to rise, and if these conditions develop, patients with hyperparathyroidism should seek medical attention.