The parathyroid gland is the chief regulator of calcium and phosphorous in the body. Maintaining calcium levels in a normal range is important for bone health, muscular health and appropriate neurological function. Typically 4 in number, these small glands sit directly on top of the thyroid gland in the neck and produce a hormone called the parathyroid hormone, or PTH for short. The parathyroid hormone works in several different ways to ensure the body’s calcium levels stay in normal range:
- PTH stimulates the production of Vitamin D which helps increase calcium levels.
- PTH allows the kidneys to conserve calcium thus preventing calcium from being lost in the urine.
- PTH regulates bone metabolism and in time of need, remove calcium from bone to ensure blood levels stay in normal range.
Signs and Symptoms of Primary hyperparathyroidism
Primary hyperparathyroidism, or “PHPT” for short, usually occurs if one of the 4 glands grow bigger than they should leading to overproduction of PTH causing too much calcium to build up in the blood. PHPT may lead to a wide range of symptoms, but in some, may actually have no symptoms at all. Some symptoms to look out for include:
- Pain in the bones or joints.
- Stomach ache, loss of appetite, constipation
- Confusion or trouble concentrating
- Feeling tired or depressed
- Recurrent kidney stones or recurrent fractures
Diagnosing Primary hyperparathyroidism
PHPT is diagnosed by a simple blood draw which would show high blood calcium levels and high levels of PTH. If these abnormalities are found on your blood work, the next step usually includes doing a 24-hour urine test to measure how much calcium is in the urine along with a bone density scan to see if you have weaker bones than normal.
Treating Primary hyperparathyroidism
The main treatment of PHPT is surgery to remove the parathyroid gland or glands that have become overactive. In most cases surgery cures the condition. People who usually require surgery are those with very high levels of calcium in the blood or urine, if PHPT is causing problems with your kidneys or bones (osteoporosis) or you are younger than 50 years old.
If you or your doctor feel that you may be experiencing symptoms of hyperparathyroidism, please call to schedule an appointment at 713-468-2122 or visit our website at www.endocrinecenterhouston.com
-Dr. Mohammed Qureshi