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Hyperparathyroidism describes a condition that comes from overactive (hyperactive) parathyroid glands. The four parathyroid glands behind the thyroid gland in the neck help control calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D levels in the body. The "para" suffix refers to these glands’ positioning in the body next to the thyroid glands, but they have are not the same. A hyperactive parathyroid gland disturbs the optimum balance of calcium and phosphorus in the bloodstream, and it is, therefore, a distinct problem from an overactive thyroid. Doctors distinguish between primary hyperparathyroidism that comes from a malfunctioning of this gland, and secondary hyperparathyroidism happens if another medical condition is the cause.

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Could be a cause of depression

While many know that a lack of calcium causes harm (for example, to the body's bone structure), the idea that too much calcium in the blood is also unhealthy is not as well know. Medical studies reveal that excess amounts of calcium negatively affect the mood. Thus, hyperparathyroidism could trigger depression. If blood test results show that the patient has this health issue and they complain about depression, there could be a connection. However, since there are so many other possible influences on mood, it takes a skilled medical profession to reach this diagnosis.

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Fatigue

The doctor might be unaware that a patient has hyperparathyroidism because sometimes it produces no obvious symptoms. The diagnosis often only emerges from blood tests performed in connection with some other condition. Fatigue is one of the ways hyperparathyroidism might affect a person. If someone feels unusually worn out and cannot link these feelings with any work pressures, school exams or domestic problems, it is advisable to get a blood test and see if there are any signs of hyperparathyroidism or some other condition behind this lack of energy.

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Nausea and lack of appetite

Whoever feels nauseous, or finds they have no appetite for a few days, needs to have a checkup to find out the source of the problem. Both of these feelings could be symptoms produced by high calcium levels, but this is just one of many possible explanations. Only through blood tests can the doctor discover if this individual suffers from hyperparathyroidism and needs treatment. The longer the calcium imbalance remains uncorrected, the more likely it is to experience vomiting and other very unpleasant symptoms.

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Danger of dehydration

Dehydration by itself could be a relatively mild condition since it is easy to correct, but if it gets out of control, it brings serious health risks. Without accurate diagnosis and effective treatment too high levels of calcium in the blood may lead to dehydration. Medical research shows that problems develop according to the speed at which the calcium deposits increase in the blood. Individuals start to dehydrate at different calcium levels. In all events, everyone needs to stay well hydrated, and even those who live in colder climates cannot afford to take this issue lightly.

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Loss of concentration and becoming confused

Most people suffer from lapses of concentration from time to time, and even now and again might become a little confused, but if they suffer from hyperparathyroidism, these could become disturbing experiences. Not so many people know that too much calcium in the blood could produce these effects, but a delay in treatment can have much more serious consequences. A person could even lose consciousness and end up in a coma in the most severe scenario. This is one reason why it makes good sense to consult a doctor as soon as you feel something is amiss.

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Contributes to high blood pressure problems

The dangers of untreated high blood pressure have fortunately received a great deal of publicity. To some extent, hereditary elements determine who is most likely to suffer from this problem, and very stressful lifestyles certainly play a role. A failure to treat hyperparathyroidism causes too much calcium to build up in the blood, and this pushes up blood pressure. Those with a tendency to suffer from this condition need to be particularly careful to ensure that their blood calcium does not rise beyond the normal level.

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Why a patient might have to go under the surgeon's scalpel

Surgery is the most effective treatment for primary severe hyperparathyroidism problems where one or more of these glands becomes enlarged or overactive. The name for this operation is a parathyroidectomy. The surgeon removes the adenoma (a non-malignant tumor) from the parathyroid, and this solves an impressive 97% of cases. Complications occasionally occur, but the high success rate of these procedures provides some reassurance for patients in this situation.

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Treatment options for secondary hyperparathyroidism

In contrast to primary hyperparathyroidism, the secondary version is treatable with medications. The best treatment plan varies according to the nature of the other medical condition that has caused the hyperparathyroidism. For example, someone who suffers from a serious vitamin D insufficiency might need to take vitamin supplements. Doctors also give patients with secondary hyperparathyroidism bisphosphonate medicines taken via an intravenous drip to lower their calcium levels.

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Effective care requires dietary changes

Changes to diet help in effective hyperparathyroidism control. It is natural to assume that since excesses of calcium are at the heart of a problem, a diet low in calcium is called for. However, the calcium people get naturally from the food supply is still essential for strong bones. Someone with this disease needs to avoid high calcium foods yet make sure they get the calcium bone health requires. A dietician can provide advice on meal plans. Drinking water regularly to avoid dehydration is another essential element in any diet. Exercise and stopping smoking also helps.

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Treatment for kidney disease sufferers

People with kidney disease are one of the main groups at risk of developing hyperparathyroidism. Doctors might treat them with a medication called cinacalcet. Sometimes they need drugs to lower blood pressure and calcium carbonate to stop the body absorbing phosphorous. They also have to go through regular blood checks to make sure no additional treatment is necessary. Kidney function tests and scans also help doctors monitor this condition.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.