What is hyperparathyroidism?

Hyperparathyroidism is a condition when one or more of your parathyroid glands create too much parathyroid hormone.

What are parathyroid glands?

The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands that are in your lower neck. These glands are part of the endocrine system—the system that acts as the chemical messenger service that produces hormones that regulate growth, development, and metabolism. The parathyroid glands’ job is to regulate calcium levels in your body.

The parathyroid glands are hard at work measuring your calcium levels in your blood as it flows through them. If your calcium levels are too high, the glands will lower the hormones they’re pumping out which lowers the calcium in your body.

If you have an abnormal gland, your blood calcium can get extremely high due to the glands inability to regulate properly. As you might know, calcium is crucial for your bones. If your parathyroid glands are unhealthy, they are taking away the calcium that is needed for strong bones which can lead to weaker bones, fractures, and other problems.

What might be a little less widely known is that calcium is a big player in your central nervous system. Calcium helps your brain function properly. If your calcium levels are irregular, you might begin to feel weak, confused, or even simply have trouble concentrating.

Symptoms

While there are many symptoms, some of the most prominent are bone fractures, the premature thinning of bones called osteopenia, and even severe bone loss, or osteoporosis. Others include kidney stones, high blood pressure, and ulcers. There are several lesser symptoms like low energy, fatigue, and generally feeling “out of it”.

What happens next?

High blood calcium causes many problems for your body. Instead of stopping the rising calcium like it should, the parathyroid glands keep producing more and more. This happens because the glands can develop growths called adenomas which makes the glands themselves swell up much larger than they should be. Typically, more than one of the four will be swollen.

Treatment

It is always best to ask your doctor questions and share your symptoms. When parathyroid surgery is deemed necessary, it is the only option as there are no medications that will cure this ailment. The surgery will be to remove the swollen glands. Your body does not need all four glands so removing those affected is the best option. Once the problematic gland or glands are removed, your body will begin to moderate its calcium properly.