Your parathyroid is a foursome of small glands on top of your thyroid. It secretes PTH hormone for maintaining your body’s balance of calcium and phosphorus.
When your blood calcium level gets low, your parathyroid glands comes to the rescue by excreting PTH to restore a health promoting amount.
PTH hormone regulatory system maintains healthy levels of calcium in:
- your blood
- excretion in your urine
- release from your bones
- absorption in your intestine
In the situation where your parathyroid glands secrete too much of its calcium balancing hormone, you end up with too much blood calcium. This condition of excessive calcium in the blood is called hypercalcemia.
Your body’s over-excretion of PTH is hyperparathyroidism. This condition may be considered primary, caused by a parathyroid gland issue, or secondary.
Secondary is a problem somewhere else causing your hyperparathyroidism, such as:
- kidney failure
- some types of cancer
- too little/much dietary calcium
- vitamin D deficiency/malabsorption
Primary hyperparathyroidism is predominantly caused by a benign tumor on a parathyroid gland, which causes it to become overactive, aka hyperplasia. Very rarely is hyperparathyroidism caused by cancer of a parathyroid gland.
The fallout of excessive PTH is:
- your bones may lose calcium
- release of too much calcium into you bloodstream
- too much calcium may be absorbed from your food
- levels of calcium may increase in the urine, causing kidney stones
- lowering of blood phosphorus levels by increasing urine excretion of phosphorus
Hyperparathyroidism symptoms may be subtle or none existent, and oftentimes only discovered through a routine blood test. Severe symptoms may include:
- kidney stones
- loss of appetite
- nausea, vomiting
- increased urination
- thinking, memory impairment
The treatment for “tumor causing” hyperparathyroidism is parathyroid removal of the “out-of-control” gland, or glands. Calcimimetics, a type of drug that turns off PTH secretion, is a new pill popping method for treatment of hyperparathyroidism.
For some milder cases of hyperparathyroidism, wherein blood calcium is only slightly raised, periodic monitoring may be the recommended treatment. If this is your case, then:
- drink lots of water
- get plenty of exercise
- avoid certain diuretics ~ thiazides
Make no mistake, a proper balance of calcium and phosphorus is essential for homeostatic good health.