Calcium plays an essential role in our body, but when a parathyroid disease attacks the gland which controls calcium regulation — the parathyroid gland — hyperparathyroidism occurs. That’s why calcium regulation in our body should be taken seriously. Read on to find out more about Hyperparathyroidism.
Hyperparathyroidism: The Most Common Parathyroid Disease
Hyperparathyroidism is the leading disease of the parathyroid gland. Hyperparathyroidism is when the gland produces an excessive amount of parathyroid hormones, resulting in a serious calcium imbalance. Parathyroid disease affects all age groups, but is most common in adults aged 40 to 75. Hyperparathyroidism is also more common among women than men. Below are the most frequently asked questions and answers you might be looking for about Hyperparathyroidism.
What is Hyperparathyroidism?
Hyperparathyroidism is when one or more parathyroid glands become overactive and releases an excess of parathyroid hormones (PTH). Usually, a parathyroid gland malfunction is caused by an adenoma, which is a benign tumor of the parathyroid.
Parathyroid glands are located behind the thyroid gland and control the level of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. They are responsible for regulating how much calcium should be taken from the bones, received in the intestines and wasted in urine. When there is an excess secretion of the parathyroid hormone, the level of calcium in the blood will rise. This condition is called hypercalcemia.
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Calcium is a crucial mineral needed by our system for bone health and general cell function. It is important to keep the level of calcium in our blood within a certain range to ensure cells are healthy and optimized for functionality. The parathyroid is the gland which secretes the hormone responsible for its regulation and maintains calcium balance.
How does it occur?
Hyperparathyroidism is divided into two categories; primary and secondary.
Primary hyperparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid gland continuously creates an extreme amount of PTH (parathyroid hormone). This will cause the calcium level in the blood to rise. Although the cause of this is not fully understood, when a benign or noncancerous growth form on a single parathyroid gland it causes it to become overactive. When two or more parathyroid gland becomes enlarged, this condition is called hyperplasia.
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Secondary hyperparathyroidism occurs during kidney failure when your calcium level drops too low. In an attempt to maintain normal calcium levels, the parathyroid will release additional PTH.
— ISN Education 🌎 (@ISNeducation) May 19, 2017
What are the signs and symptoms of Hyperparathyroidism?
The majority of hyperparathyroidism cases have vague symptoms, or sometimes show no symptoms at all. When symptoms are present, they are mainly due to the high levels of calcium in the blood. These symptoms may include:
- Joint pain
- Muscle weakness
- Abdominal discomfort
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Kidney stones
- Thinning bones (osteoporosis)
- Irregular heartbeats or other heart conditions
How is Hyperparathyroidism diagnosed?
Since the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism are often overlooked, a regular blood test is the most effective method to detect hyperthyroidism. In primary hyperparathyroidism, a patient will have higher levels of parathyroid hormones and calcium in the blood. Bone density tests can also be done to detect bone loss, which is indicative of decreased levels of calcium. Other tests include ultrasounds of the kidney to check for stones and calcium measurements in the urine.
What is the treatment?
If the patient has mild hyperparathyroidism, the physician may advise that there is no need for parathyroid gland surgery. Instead, your physician can observe the calcium levels in your blood and monitor blood pressure, kidney function, and bone density. People who are at risk of Hyperparathyroidism should drink more water, have a healthy intake of Vitamin D, and exercise regularly. Thiazide diuretics or lithium is known to increase calcium levels so, most people are advised to avoid taking these drugs.
Surgically removing one or more parathyroid glands (or parathyroidectomy) is the primary treatment for hyperparathyroidism with a 95% cure rate.
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For secondary hyperparathyroidism, the drug “Calcimimetics” has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a viable treatment. The main function of this drug is to stop the production of PTH.
Watch this video for more ideas about parathyroid disease and know what to do when they hit you!
If you’re experiencing symptoms of hyperparathyroidism, consult your physician. Early detection and treatment are important as it makes management of hyperparathyroidism more manageable than severe cases.
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