Hyperparathyroidism Symptoms and Causes


What Is Hyperparathyroidism?

Hyperparathyroidism is a disease characterized by excessive secretion of parathyroid hormone, an 84–amino acid polypeptide hormone.  The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized endocrine glands located in your neck. It is near or attached to the back of your thyroid. In short endocrine glands secrete hormones necessary for the normal functioning of the body.

Despite having similar names and being adjacent in your neck, the parathyroid glands and the thyroid are very different organs. Generally, PTH helps regulate the levels of calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus in your bones and blood.

Generally, some people with this condition don’t experience any symptoms and don’t need treatment. In particular, others have mild or severe symptoms that might require surgery.

Cause of Hyperparathyroidism

In hyperparathyroidism, one or more of your parathyroid glands becomes overactive and makes excess PTH. This could be due to a tumour, gland enlargement, or other structural problems of the parathyroid glands.

When your calcium levels are too low, your parathyroid glands respond by increasing the production of PTH. Hence this causes your kidneys and intestines to absorb a larger amount of calcium. It also removes more calcium from your bones. PTH production returns to normal when your calcium level goes up again.

Types of Hyperthyroidism

There are three types of hyperparathyroidism: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Primary Hyperparathyroidism

This type occurs when you have a problem with at least one of your parathyroid glands. Common causes of parathyroid problems include benign growths on the gland and enlargement of at least two glands. In rare cases, a cancerous tumour causes this condition. An increased risk of developing primary hyperparathyroidism also occurs in people who:

  • have certain inherited disorders that affect several glands throughout the body, such as multiple endocrine neoplasias
  • having a long history of calcium and vitamin D deficiencies
  • have been exposed to radiation from cancer treatment
  • also have taken a drug called lithium, which mainly treats bipolar disorder

Secondary Hyperparathyroidism

This type occurs when you have an underlying condition that causes your calcium levels to be abnormally low. Most cases of secondary hyperparathyroidism are due to chronic kidney failure that results in low vitamin D and calcium levels.

Tertiary Hyperparathyroidism

This type occurs when your parathyroid glands keep making too much PTH after your calcium levels return to normal. This type usually occurs in people with kidney problems.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Such symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on your type of hyperparathyroidism.

Primary Hyperparathyroidism

Generally, some patients don’t have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they can range from mild to severe. Milder symptoms may include:

More severe symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include:

Secondary hyperparathyroidism

With this type, you may have skeletal abnormalities, such as fractures, swollen joints, and bone deformities. Other symptoms depend on the underlying cause, such as chronic kidney failure or severe vitamin D deficiency.

Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism

Alt text = Hyperparathyroidism diagnosis
Hyperparathyroidism diagnosis

Generally, your physician might suspect that you have hyperparathyroidism if routine blood tests show high levels of calcium in your blood. Thus to confirm this diagnosis, your primary care provider will need to perform other tests.

Blood Tests for hyperthyroidism

Generally, additional blood tests can help your physician make a more accurate diagnosis. Your physician will check your blood for high PTH levels, high alkaline phosphatase levels, and also low levels of phosphorus.

Urine Tests for hyperthyroidism

Particularly a urine test can help your primary care provider determine how severe your condition is and whether kidney problems are the cause. In short, your physician will check your urine to see how much calcium it contains.

Kidney Tests

Your primary care provider might take X-rays of your abdomen to check for kidney abnormalities.

Treatments of Hyperthyroidism

Primary Hyperparathyroidism

Generally, you might not need treatment if your kidneys are working fine, if your calcium levels are only slightly high, or if your bone density is normal. In this case, your primary care provider might monitor your condition once a year and check your blood calcium levels twice a year.


Your primary care provider will also recommend watching how much calcium and vitamin D you get in your diet. You’ll also need to drink plenty of water to reduce your risk of kidney stones. In short, you should get regular exercise to strengthen your bones.


If treatment is necessary, surgery is the commonly used treatment. Surgical procedures involve removing enlarged parathyroid glands or tumours on the glands. To summarize complications are rare and include damaged vocal cord nerves and long-term, low levels of calcium.


Calcimimetics, which acts like calcium in the blood, is another treatment. These drugs can trick your glands into making less PTH. Primary care providers prescribe these in some cases if surgery is unsuccessful or not an option.

Generally, Bisphosphonates, which keep your bones from losing calcium, can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.


Hormone replacement therapy can help bones hold on to calcium. This therapy can treat postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, although there are risks involved with prolonged use. These include an increased risk of some cancers and cardiovascular disease.

Secondary Hyperparathyroidism

Treatment involves bringing your PTH level back to normal by treating the underlying cause. Methods of treatment include taking prescription vitamin D for severe deficiencies and calcium and vitamin D for chronic kidney failure. You might also need medication and dialysis if you have chronic kidney failure.

Complications of Hyperparathyroidism

If you suffer from hyperparathyroidism, you might also have a condition called osteoporosis which is also sometimes referred to as “thinning” of the bone. Common symptoms include bone fractures and height loss due to vertebral body (spinal column) fractures. This can develop when excess PTH production causes too much calcium loss in your bones, making them weak. Osteoporosis typically occurs when you have too much calcium in your blood and not enough calcium in your bones for a prolonged period.


For the most part, osteoporosis puts you at a higher risk for bone fractures. Your primary care provider can check for signs of osteoporosis by taking bone X-rays or doing a bone mineral density test. This test measures calcium and bone mineral levels using special X-ray devices.

What is the point of view in the long term of hyperthyroidism?

Surgery can cure most cases of hyperparathyroidism. If you and your primary care provider opted to monitor your condition rather than treating it, making several healthy lifestyle choices can help you fight symptoms. Drink plenty of water, and get regular exercise. You should also monitor the amount of calcium and vitamin D you consume.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Hyperthyroidism:

Help in building up the hormones which are responsible for the immune functions in the body. It also helps in cell growth and the regulation of thyroid hormones. Following a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids in long term helps build up the immune system in the body and reduce the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Hence Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best home remedies for hyperthyroidism.

Walnuts and flax seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming these on daily basis will help improve your thyroid function. You can also include varieties of fish like salmon, herring and mackerel in your daily diet. Include dairy products of grass-fed animals. The healthy omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and other varieties of fish also could help promote insulin sensitivity, leading to less insulin production and a decrease in androgen synthesis.

Author: jayma
I am Usha Gupta, an aspiring lady with a strong passion for all medical and scientific advancements. Promoting lifestyle tips and knowledge related to medical terminology.

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