Hyperparathyroidism means that one or more of your four parathyroid glands may be too active. These are tiny glands in the neck, behind the thyroid gland. When they're too active, they make too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). This hormone helps control how much calcium is in your blood.
When a parathyroid gland makes too much PTH, the amount of calcium in your blood goes up. Some of this calcium comes from your bones. That means that hyperparathyroidism can lead to weak bones and a greater risk of broken bones. The extra calcium in the blood can also lead to kidney stones and other health problems.
Hyperparathyroidism often is caused by a growth on one or more parathyroid glands, or by enlarged glands. In some cases, it runs in families. It can also be caused by certain health conditions or medicines. For example, it can be caused by chronic kidney disease or the medicine lithium.
Most people with hyperparathyroidism have no symptoms when they're diagnosed. But when it does cause symptoms, they can include:
Your doctor does a blood test to check your parathyroid hormone (PTH) level. A high level of PTH is the main sign of this condition.
A routine blood test showing a high calcium level is often the first sign of hyperparathyroidism.
When you have hyperparathyroidism, it's important to have regular checkups. Tests can include:
Treatment for hyperparathyroidism depends on how mild or severe it is. It also depends on what you and your doctor decide is right for you.
Treatment options include:
In mild cases, when there are no symptoms from high calcium and the calcium level is not very high, a doctor may suggest watchful waiting. That means doing regular tests to look for signs that hyperparathyroidism is getting worse or causing other health problems and needs more treatment.
When hyperparathyroidism is causing health problems from high calcium levels, doctors usually recommend surgery. Removing the problem parathyroid gland(s) is the only treatment that can cure this condition. Surgery can also be an option for people who don't yet have symptoms but are concerned about possible bone or kidney problems in the future.
While medicine can't cure hyperparathyroidism, it may help with symptoms from high calcium or with bone strength. If you can't have surgery for a medical reason, talk to your doctor about medicine for better bone strength or for lowering your calcium levels.
Each treatment choice has its own risks and benefits. Make sure you understand the possible benefits, along with which risks are greatest for you. Find out how each treatment choice may affect your long-term health.
When talking about the risks and benefits of a treatment option, ask your doctor:
If you have hyperparathyroidism, use these healthy tips.
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