Hyperparathyroidism

The parathyroid glands are a set of four small glands located inside or near the thyroid gland. These glands produce parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your blood. When your parathyroid glands produce too much PTH, health problems can result.

Hyperparathyroidism develops when one or more of your parathyroid glands produces too much PTH (hyper means over). When this happens, the amount of calcium in your blood rises. Some of this calcium is taken from your bones, potentially leaving them weaker and more prone to breaking.

In addition, the excess calcium in your blood can cause kidney stones and cardiovascular problems.

Symptoms of Hyperparathyroidism

Often, hyperparathyroidism has no symptoms, but some people experience symptoms including:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue/sleeping more than usual
  • Depression
  • Aches and pains in the bones and joints
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Confusion and memory problems
  • Feeling thirsty and urinating frequently

Many of these symptoms can be caused by viruses or other conditions. If you have symptoms, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to identify the cause.

Diagnosing & Treating Hyperparathyroidism

Your doctor can order a simple blood test to check your parathyroid hormone (PTH) level. A high level of PTH is the main sign of this condition.

Depending on the severity of your hyperparathyroidism, treatment options may include:

  • Watchful waiting: If your calcium level is not too high and you have no symptoms of high calcium such as weak bones or kidney stones, you and your doctor may decide to monitor your condition. You may need regular check-ups including blood tests, bone density tests and urine tests to check your kidney function. If your hyperparathyroidism becomes more severe, you may need treatment
  • Surgery: If your hyperparathyroidism is causing health problems, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the parathyroid glands that are producing too much PTH.
  • Medication: If surgery is not an option for you, your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your calcium levels or protect your bones. However, medication cannot cure hyperparathyroidism.

Talk with your Mercy physician about the benefits and risks of your hyperparathyroidism treatment options. Together, you and your doctor can decide which approach is best to get your blood calcium back to normal.

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