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What is Hyperparathyroidism?

Parathyroids are 4 pea sized glands behind a person’s thyroid gland at the front of the neck. These glands produce a hormone called parathyroid that keeps the proper levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body, which helps absorb calcium from food and keep the body from losing calcium through the urine. Hyperparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). A growth on the parathyroid gland can cause them to make too much PTH. Other medical conditions can also cause the parathyroid glands to make too much PTH.

When you have your annual exam or physical, your family doctor may suggest getting some routine blood work done. Frequently, in this blood work, your thyroid levels will be checked, especially if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below. Hyperparathyroidism is most often suspected when a high level of calcium is found in blood on a routine blood test. The test result will help make the diagnosis even before symptoms may have developed.

Some of the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism include:

• Tired and weakness most of the time
• General aches and pains throughout the body
• Heartburn
• Nausea and vomiting
• Pain in the abdomen or constipation
• High Blood Pressure
• An increase in bone fractures or breaks
• Confusion and poor memory
• Kidney stones

Back and Neck Pain

Normally the amount of calcium being absorbed by the bones is the same as that being lost. Ultimately this makes the level of calcium in the body stay the same. With hyperparathyroidism, more calcium is coming out of the bones than going back in. As a result the bones become weak, brittle, and slower to heal.

The calcium from the bones enters the blood stream and causes high blood pressure. This also creates a risk of developing kidney stones, because kidneys are trying to filter out extra calcium. This can also create excessive thirst and an increased need for urination.

More women develop hyperparathyroidism than men. It is also more common in older people. Women over 65 have 2 in 1,000 chance of developing this disease. People who have a vitamin D deficiency also have an increased risk of developing

Be sure to schedule your annual exam with your family doctor, so that your overall health can be checked. In these routine appointments, is where many underlying health problems, like hyperparathyroidism, are uncovered, leading to treatment and a higher quality of life.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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