Hyperparathyroidism is when the body makes too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). The parathyroid glands make PTH which help to keep calcium levels in balance.
Hyperparathyroidism may be: Primary—a benign tumor of the parathyroid gland that makes too much PTH (most common form)
Secondary—occurs in people with long-standing
Tertiary—occurs in people with long-standing
kidney failure and dialysis
Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands: Posterior (Back) View
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Primary hyperparathyroidism may be caused by: Noncancerous tumor in the parathyroid gland—most common causeFamilial hyperparathyroidismMultiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN)Parathyroid cancer—rare
Secondary hyperparathyroidism may be caused by: Vitamin D deficiency due to inadequate dietary intake, lack of sunlight exposure, or malabsorption condition like celiac diseaseKidney failure or other medical problems that make the body resistant to the action of the parathyroid hormone
Enlargement of the parathyroid gland is the main risk factor for tertiary hyperparathyroidism.
Hyperparathyroidism is more common in women, especially after
It is also more common in people older than 50 years of age. Other factors that may increase your chance of hyperparathyroidism include:
Multiple endocrine neoplasiaHaving specific genetic factors that increase your riskRadiation therapy
to the head or neck during childhood
The level of calcium in the blood will determine the symptoms. Symptoms occasionally seen with primary hyperparathyroidism include: ConstipationNauseaVomitingAbdominal painHeadacheLoss of appetiteThirstFrequent and sometimes painful urination due to kidney stonesFatigueMuscle weaknessJoint painMemory lossHeartburnBack pain
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with: Blood testsUrine tests
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with: UltrasoundTechnetium 99m sestamibi scan—a that uses safe nuclear molecules to make pictures of the parathyroid glands to help locate a single parathyroid adenoma in primary hyperparathyroidism
Other tests may be done to look for other problems hyperparathyroid may cause: Bone density testAbdominal x-ray
Treatment will be based on the type of hyperparathyroidism. Options may include the following: If a growth is causing the problems, surgery may be done to remove the growth
Hyperparathyroidism due to a vitamin D deficiency may be treated with medicationsTreating underlying causesMedication to manage possible side effects
Your doctor may choose to regularly check your blood calcium levels and monitor you for possible complications. This may include regular bone density tests every 1-2 years.
Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake may play a role in preventing hyperparathyroidism in women. Try to get recommended levels of calcium through dietary choices and supplements.
Hyperparathyroidism: Treatment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/hyperparathyroidism/treatment.html. Updated March 2014. Accessed February 17, 2016.
Hyperparathyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 10, 2015. Accessed February 17, 2016.
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http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Paik J, Curhan G, Taylor EN. Calcium intake and risk of primary hyperparathyroidism in women: prospective cohort study.
Last reviewed February 2016 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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