Identifying the Main Cause of Hyperparathyroidism


Hyperparathyroidism (HPT) is among the more common hormonal disorders, with primary hyperparathyroidism, a type of HPT, accounting for nearly 100,000 Americans being diagnosed with it each year. It is primarily seen in women and usually affects people between the ages of fifty to sixty. While hyperparathyroidism is a treatable and manageable medical condition, identifying its cause is essential and can be the key to living a fuller and healthier life.

This blog discusses what hyperparathyroidism is, what parathyroid glands are, the leading cause of hyperparathyroidism, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

What Is Hyperparathyroidism?

Hyperparathyroidism occurs when one or more of the four parathyroid glands produce surplus parathyroid hormone (PTH), much more than the body needs. It is similar to a thyroid disorder called hyperthyroidism, in which the thyroid gland makes more than the required thyroid hormones. If untreated, hyperparathyroidism may result in high calcium levels in the blood, also known as hypercalcemia.

Hyperparathyroidism can be classified into:

  • Primary Hyperparathyroidism

    In this condition, a benign growth or enlargement in one or more parathyroid glands leads to excess parathyroid hormone secretion. The affected glands fail to respond to your body signs to stop PTH production.

  • Secondary Hyperparathyroidism

    This disease is caused by a secondary factor that reduces your calcium levels. Mostly seen among chronic kidney disease patients, it may also occur if you have a health condition that either increases your phosphate or reduces vitamin D levels. It causes the parathyroid glands to make more PTH to increase calcium levels.

  • Tertiary Hyperparathyroidism

    It is an advanced stage of hyperparathyroidism seen in kidney transplant patients. In this condition, the parathyroid glands become abnormally enlarged and continuously produce PTH, resulting in very high PTH and calcium levels.

What Are Parathyroid Glands?

Parathyroid glands and the thyroid gland are a part of your endocrine system. They comprise two pairs of oval-shaped pea-sized glands in the neck behind the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland. They produce parathyroid hormone (PTH), which plays a critical role in regulating the calcium levels in the blood. Even the slightest fluctuations in calcium levels can lead to muscle or nerve disorders.

Their functions include stimulating the following activities:

  • Release of calcium and phosphate by bones into the blood
  • Absorption of calcium from food by the intestines
  • Conservation of calcium by the kidneys and release of phosphates through urine
  • Transfer of active vitamin D from the kidney into the gut for optimal absorption of calcium from the intestines

What is the Main Cause of Hyperparathyroidism?

The cause of hyperparathyroidism may vary depending on the type of hyperparathyroidism you are diagnosed with :

The causes of primary hyperparathyroidism include:

  • Adenomas: Non-cancerous benign growths on one or more parathyroid glands
  • Hyperplasia: Enlargement of the parathyroid glands
  • Parathyroid Carcinomas: A rare cause, it is a type of a cancerous tumor

The leading causes of secondary hyperparathyroidism causes are:

  • Kidney disease
  • Low vitamin D levels

The cause of tertiary hyperparathyroidism is :

  • Prolonged secondary hyperparathyroidism.

What are the Symptoms of Hyperparathyroidism?

If you have hyperparathyroidism, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Bone and joint pain

  • Fatigue

  • Increased urge to urinate

  • Constipation

  • Muscle weakness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Reduced appetite

  • Depression

  • Memory and concentration issue

  • Disorientation

How is Hyperparathyroidism Diagnosed?

For an accurate diagnosis of your specific hyperparathyroidism condition, your physician may recommend certain tests, such as:

  • Blood tests: To measure calcium levels in your bloodstream.
  • 24-hour Urine test: This test checks the functioning of your kidneys and measures the amount of calcium passed through your urine.
  • Parathyroid scan: Also known as a sestamibi scan, it helps identify the affected parathyroid glands producing excess PTH.
  • Ultrasounds: To detect kidney stones or other kidney-related issues.
  • Bone densitometry exam: To check bone density and look for osteoporosis.

How Is Hyperparathyroidism Treated?

Parathyroid treatment is similar to thyroid treatment. Depending on the type of hyperparathyroidism you have, your doctor will design a treatment plan which may include lifestyle changes, and surgery.

  • Primary Hyperparathyroidism

    Surgery can be the most recommended treatment for the removal of abnormal growths or enlargements in the parathyroid glands if you are:

    • Younger than 50

    • Have high calcium levels in your blood

    • Experience hypercalcemia symptoms

    • Osteoporosis

    • Kidney stones

    • Calcium deposits in the kidney

  • Secondary Hyperparathyroidism

    Chronic kidney failure patients may need kidney dialysis to treat the underlying issue.

  • Tertiary Hyperparathyroidism

    You may need a kidney transplant surgery as a treatment option for this type of hyperparathyroidism.

Restore Your Parathyroid Health with Minimally Invasive Surgery at Far North Surgery

Far North Surgery is a licensed and certified surgical facility based in Anchorage, AK. It offers patients personalized and comprehensive best-in-class medical care using the most advanced equipment and technologies. Our team of recognized and highly skilled surgeons, led by noted oncology surgeon Dr. Madhu Prasad, is committed to providing superior, safe, and compassionate healthcare for several surgeries.

If you are looking for the best endocrinal surgery options near you for hyperparathyroidism, contact our team today.

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