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 patients with long-standing kidney failure or a vitamin D deficient state
- Tertiary—also occurs in patients with very long-standing kidney failure and dialysis
Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands: Posterior (Back) View
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Primary hyperparathyroidism may be caused by:
- Noncancerous tumor in the parathyroid gland (most common cause)
- Parathyroid cancer (very rare)
- Familial hyperparathyroidism
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN)
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 glands—common cause
Enlargement of the parathyroid gland is the main risk factor for tertiary hyperparathyroidism.
Last reviewedJune 2013by Kim Carmichael, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.