Hyperparathyroidism

(Overactive Parathyroid)

Definition

Hyperparathyroidism is when the body makes too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). The parathyroid glands make PTH which help to keep calcium levels in balance.Hyperparathyroidism may be:
  • Primary—a benign tumor of the parathyroid gland that makes too much PTH (most common form)
  • Secondary—occurs in people with long-standing kidney failure or a vitamin D deficiency
  • Tertiary—occurs in people with long-standing kidney failure and dialysis
Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands: Posterior (Back) View
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Causes

Primary hyperparathyroidism may be caused by:
  • Noncancerous tumor in the parathyroid gland—most common cause
  • Familial hyperparathyroidism
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN)
  • Parathyroid cancer—rare
Secondary hyperparathyroidism may be caused by:
  • Vitamin D deficiency due to inadequate dietary intake, lack of sunlight exposure, or malabsorption condition like celiac disease
  • Kidney failure or other medical problems that make the body resistant to the action of the parathyroid hormone
Enlargement of the parathyroid gland is the main risk factor for tertiary hyperparathyroidism.

Risk Factors

Hyperparathyroidism is more common in women, especially after menopause. It is also more common in people older than 50 years of age. Other factors that may increase your chance of hyperparathyroidism include:
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia
  • Having specific genetic factors that increase your risk
  • Radiation therapy to the head or neck during childhood

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