Hyperparathyroidism is an excessive secretion of parathyroid hormone, often caused by the presence of small, generally benign tumor (adenoma) in one or more parathyroid gland(s). Sometimes, the disease is a result of a general increase of all four parathyroid glands. It is not known what is the cause of tumor or increasing of the parathyroid glands. Abnormally high levels of hormones causes an abnormally high level of calcium in the blood. These additional amounts of calcium mainly originate from bones. Kidneys tend to reduce the level of calcium in the blood by exuding it in the urine, although their effect in this is limited, so the concentration of calcium gradually increases over the years.
In most cases, symptoms occur only after the disease has progressed – i.e. mainly in middle age. However, some cases are discovered earlier during routine blood testing or tests carried out because of some other disease. The excess of calcium in the blood disturbs the body’s metabolism, causing indigestion and depression. Due to the loss of calcium, the bones become soft and prone to fractures. After several years, the excessive amounts of calcium that pass through kidneys in the urine may cause kidney stones.
If you suspect that you suffer from this disease, consult a doctor who will send you to blood tests. If analysis confirm the diagnosis, you will be referred for angiography, as well as to ultrasound or isotope diagnosis to determine which glands are affected by the disease.
In most cases the disease can be completely cured by surgical removal of the adenoma or three (of usually four) increased glands. In some cases, the amount of hormones that are secreted by these glands will not be enough (after surgery) to maintain normal levels of calcium in the blood (see Hypoparathyroidism). If there is a development of kidney stones, it will require treatment, too.