Your parathyroid glands produce
parathyroid hormone (PTH). Primary hyperparathyroidism is when one or more of the
parathyroid glands makes too much PTH. This can lead to bone tissue loss. This condition
is more common in women than in men.
PTH keeps blood calcium levels from
going too low. It does this by releasing calcium from bones. The hormone also conserves
calcium that would be given off by the kidneys. And it increases how much calcium is
absorbed from food. Too much PTH causes too much calcium to be released from bone. And
the level of calcium in your blood rises.
In some cases, no cause can be
found. Some known causes include noncancer (benign) tumors on the parathyroid glands, or
enlargement of the glands. When there is a benign tumor in a parathyroid gland, it is
called a parathyroid adenoma. When more than one gland becomes enlarged, it is called
parathyroid hyperplasia. Both of these conditions are noncancer.
Each person may experience symptoms
differently. Symptoms of too much calcium in the blood may include:
Other serious symptoms may include:
The symptoms of primary
hyperparathyroidism may look like other health problems. Always talk with your
healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The condition may not have any symptoms or complications. Sometimes this problem is found during a routine blood test as part of a physical exam.
You'll likely have additional blood
tests done to check the levels of calcium and PTH. You'll also probably have urine tests
to check on the level of calcium in your urine and to check your kidney function. Your
healthcare provider may want you to have a sestamibi scan or ultrasound study of your
neck. This could detect a parathyroid adenoma. You may also have dual X-ray
absorptiometry. This test is also called bone densitometry. It is done to determine bone
density and to reveal loss of bone tissue (as can occur with hyperparathyroidism.) It is
also used to help your healthcare provider to keep an eye on the condition. Testing can
also help decide if surgery may be needed.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Surgery to remove the affected
gland may be needed. Treatment may include regular bone densitometry testing to reveal
loss of bone tissue.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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