The parathyroid glands are located in the neck, near the thyroid gland. These glands are responsible for calcium regulation.
Primary hyperparathyroidism is a metabolic disorder in which one (or more) of the parathyroid glands produces too much parathyroid hormone, which can result in the loss of bone tissue. Primary hyperparathyroidism affects about 100,000 people in the US each year, and is more prevalent in women than in men.
A function of the parathyroid hormone is to keep blood-calcium levels from going too low by releasing calcium from bones, conserving calcium that would be excreted by the kidneys, and increasing calcium absorption from food. When the hormone overacts, the result is a rise in the blood-calcium level.
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When one parathyroid gland becomes enlarged, the condition is called adenoma. When more than one becomes enlarged, the condition is called hyperplasia. Both of these conditions are benign (non-cancerous).
Too much parathyroid hormone causes too much calcium to be released from bone.
In some cases, no cause can be identified. Some known causes include benign (non-cancerous) tumors on the parathyroid glands, or enlargement of the glands.
The following are the most common symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of too much calcium in the blood may include:
- loss of appetite
- increased thirst
- frequent urination
- lethargy and fatigue
- muscle weakness
- joint pain
- kidney pain (due to the presence of kidney stones)
Other serious symptoms may include:
- abdominal pain
- memory loss
The symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
The disorder may not present symptoms or complications, and is sometimes discovered during a routine blood test as a part of a physical examination.
A diagnosis procedure for primary hyperparathyroidism may involve a dual x-ray absorptiometry, also called bone densitometry, to determine bone density and to reveal loss of bone tissue. Bone densitometry is also used to continually monitor the disorder.
Specific treatment forprimary hyperparathyroidism will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
Surgery to remove the affected gland may be performed. Treatment may include continual monitoring with bone densitometry to reveal loss of bone tissue, and to determine if surgery may be a necessary treatment.
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Online Resources of Bone Disorders