What Happens When You Have Hyperparathyroidism & How Long Can You Live With It?

In patients with hyperparathyroidism, precautions and managing the disease plays a very important role in the survival and preventing complications. A well-balanced diet which is very low in calcium and drinking a lot of water to avoid dehydration is a must. Several water tablets like thiazides or several diuretics prescribed for high blood pressure treatment should be avoided to prevent dehydration and rising of calcium levels. Similarly, several other measures need to be taken care of in order to keep the parathyroid hormone levels within control. Otherwise, it might cause a risk of several complications and adverse effects in the long term.

What is Hyperparathyroidism?

Hyperparathyroidism is a disease condition in which an excess of parathyroid hormone is present in the bloodstream because of over-activity of any of the four parathyroid glands. The size of each parathyroid gland is near the size of rice grain and is located in the neck region.

The parathyroid glands are mainly responsible for the production of parathyroid hormone, which further helps in maintaining the level of calcium in the blood as well as in tissues. So, the amount of calcium present further regulates its proper functioning. Any alteration in the parathyroid gland functioning directly impacts the calcium levels in the body.

Hyperparathyroidism exists in its two different forms:

Primary Hyperparathyroidism: In this condition, enlargement of one or more parathyroid glands leads to the overproduction of the hormone which results in high calcium levels or hypercalcemia1,2. Usually, surgery is required to rectify primary hyperparathyroidism.

Secondary Hyperparathyroidism: It occurs as a result of some other disease which causes low calcium levels initially and later triggers an increase in parathyroid levels.
It is always advisable to refer a doctor in case of any abrupt changes in the body or if there is presence of any symptoms. Since, similar symptoms can be caused by several disorders; hence, a complete evaluation via tests can help getting the exact diagnosis of the disease with the cause.

What Happens When You Have Hyperparathyroidism?

Hyperparathyroidism and other parathyroid disorders are associated with weight gain issues. Although, there is a myth that removal of the parathyroid gland after surgery causes weight gain in a person, yet, it has no particular scientific logic and it isn’t considered true purely. Basically, weight gain happens because of the hormonal issues or tumors of the parathyroid gland.

Besides weight gain, several other disorders like extreme fatigue, bone pain, osteoporosis, certain heart problems3 like palpitations, arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure4, kidney stones due to increased calcium levels5, GERD due to medications, and even depression etc. occur due to negative effects of parathyroid hormone abruption in the body. Hormones control several body mechanisms and its over or underproduction causes a strong impact over the bodily systems.

Hyperparathyroidism mainly triggers a situation of hypercalcemia in the body making the bones weak and fragile since more calcium goes into the bloodstream from the bones due to high levels of parathyroid hormones in the body. It becomes important to opt for proper diagnostic tests for a complete evaluation of the situation. This can only help the doctor to understand the situation in the best possible way and to initiate the treatment.

What are the Risk Factors of Hyperparathyroidism?

Anyone can be at risk of developing hyperparathyroidism especially if a person:

  • Is a woman undergoing or already passed through menopause
  • Have any calcium or vitamin D deficiency since long
  • Is experiencing any rare or inherited disorder like multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 which mainly affects multiple glands
  • Underwent any radiation therapy for cancer treatment and accidentally got back exposure towards radiations
  • Was on lithium therapy to treat any sort of bipolar disorder, etc.

How to Diagnose Hyperparathyroidism?

Hyperparathyroidism is easily diagnosed via blood tests which can depict high calcium and parathyroid hormones. Several diseases can cause high calcium levels but extremely high levels are only caused mainly during hyperparathyroidism. So, complete blood tests can provide the proper levels hence with a clear indication of its cause.

Further, few more tests can also be required in later stages to analyze any other complications or disease presence. Since, high levels of parathyroid hormones can greatly impact the bone density making the bones weak and fragile; hence the body density tests must also be done at regular intervals. Abdominal ultrasound or scans along with urine test can clarify the presence of any kidney stones due to excess calcium presence. Risks of hypercalcemia, as well as hypocalciuria, can also be analyzed via tests.

How Long Can You Live with Hyperparathyroidism?

Prolonged hyperparathyroidism decreases the life expectancy of the patients in comparison to other people. Normally, a person suffering from hyperparathyroidism for more than 15 years is expected to survive for nearly 5 years lesser than other people might. Since hyperparathyroidism leaves a negative impact over several body organs and functioning, it becomes hard to survive for longer periods. Over the years several more complications add up to the existing hyperparathyroidism condition making the survival harder.

The health condition of the patient can actually depict the survival chances because more the complications lesser are the survival chances. Several types of diseases like heart complications, renal problems5, blood pressure fluctuations4, bone weakening, etc. are the major ones being experienced by the patients. Several hyperparathyroidism patients suffer a sudden cardiac arrest due to the presence of cardiac troubles over time3,6,7.

Several types of research reveal a linkage of premature death in patients suffering from hyperparathyroidism with that of cardiovascular problems or cancer3. Maximum of such deaths occur due to cancer or cardiovascular problems which appear over time while the patient suffers from hyperparathyroidism. However, the patients who undergo surgery for the parathyroid disease at the earliest are known to experience better survival benefits in comparison to the other survivors who do not receive treatment.

Hyperparathyroidism can be treated if an early diagnosis is made so that early treatment can be started to combat the situation since the delay in treatment can only worsen the condition and make it more complicated.

References:  

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1675465
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2229288
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5512678/
  4. Farahnak P, Larfars G, Sten-Linder M, Nilsson IL. Mild primary hyperparathyroidism: vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular risk markers. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011;96:2112–2118.
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19587504
  6. Hedback GM, Oden AS. Cardiovascular disease, hypertension and renal function in primary hyperparathyroidism. Journal of Internal Medicine. 2002;251:476–483.
  7. Nilsson IL, Yin L, Lundgren E, Rastad J, Ekbom A. Clinical presentation of primary hyperparathyroidism in Europe – nationwide cohort analysis on mortality from nonmalignant causes. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2002;17(Suppl 2):N68–N74.

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