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Hyperparathyroidism occurs when 1 or more of your parathyroid glands are overactive. You have 4 of these tiny glands. Each one is about the size of a grain of rice. They are found in your neck, next to the thyroid gland. They keep the amount of calcium in your blood in a normal range. If these glands are overactive, they make too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). That raises the level of calcium in your blood.
PTH causes calcium to be released from your bones. This loss of calcium from the bones can lead to weak, brittle bones (osteopenia and osteoporosis), and bone fractures. When the blood with this high calcium goes through the kidneys, the calcium may be filtered into the urine. That can lead to kidney stones.
Hyperparathyroidism most often happens when one of your parathyroid glands gets larger or has a tumor on it. The gland then makes too much parathyroid hormone. Most people with this problem have 1 abnormal gland. Some people may have 2 abnormal glands. A small number of people have 4 abnormal glands. Having 4 abnormal glands is rare. It is often a genetic problem.
You may be more likely to have hyperparathyroidism if:
Each person may have symptoms in a different way. But these are the most common symptoms and signs:
These symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
Surgery. If your case is more severe, your parathyroid gland may need to be removed. Before surgery, you may have an imaging test to find out which gland is abnormal. You may have an ultrasound of the neck. Knowing which gland is abnormal will shorten the surgery. It will also allow the surgeon to make a smaller cut (incision) right over the abnormal gland.
No surgery. You may not need treatment if you have a mild case. But your healthcare provider will watch your condition to make sure it doesn’t get worse.
Medicines. Ask your healthcare provider about new medicines that may be available.
You will likely need to have your calcium levels and bone density checked from time to time. Your healthcare provider will then be able to make sure your problem is under control.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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