Hyperparathyroidism is when the body makes too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH is made in the parathyroid gland. It helps to balance calcium levels in the blood. High PTH causes too much calcium in the blood. There are three types:
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The primary type may be caused by:
- A noncancerous tumor—most common cause
- Certain inherited conditions
The secondary type may be caused by:
- Low levels of vitamin D
- Kidney failure or other health problems
The tertiary type is caused by an enlarged parathyroid. It can happen with long term kidney failure.
This condition is more common in older adults, especially women. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Most people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
This condition is diagnosed with blood and urine tests. The doctor may also do a scan of the parathyroid gland. Other scans may be done such to check the kidneys and bones.
Treatment depends on the cause. Options may be:
- Surgery to remove tumors
- Medicine to treat symptoms and keep levels of calcium and vitamin D in the normal range
- Management of kidney disease, if present
Blood calcium levels may need to be checked on a regular basis. It can help to find problems early. Other tests can also help to look for related problems such as bone density tests.
Healthy amounts of calcium and vitamin D may prevent primary hyperparathyroidism in women. A healthy diet can help.
Hormone Health Network—Endocrine Society
The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons
The Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Hyperparathyroidism. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/hyperparathyroidism. Accessed January 18, 2021.
Primary hyperparathyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/primary-hyperparathyroidism. Accessed January 18, 2021.
Secondary hyperparathyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/secondary-hyperparathyroidismAccessed January 2021.
Tertiary hyperparathyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/tertiary-hyperparathyroidism. Accessed January 2021.
Walker M, Bilezikian P. Primary hyperparathyroidism: recent advances. Curr Opin Rheumatol . 2018 Jul;30(4):427-439.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 1/18/2021