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Primary hyperparathyroidism

  • Definition

    Primary hyperparathyroidism is an endocrine disorder in which the parathyroid glands in the neck produce too much parathyroid hormone (PTH).

    See also:

    • Hyperparathyroidism
    • Secondary hyperparathyroidism

    Alternative Names

    Parathyroid-related hypercalcemia; Hyperparathyroidism - primary


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    The parathyroid glands are located in the neck, near or attached to the back side of the thyroid gland. They produce parathyroid hormone, which controls calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D levels within the blood and bone.

    When calcium levels are too low, the body responds by increasing production of parathyroid hormone. This increase in parathyroid hormone causes more calcium to be taken from the bone and more calcium to be reabsorbed by the intestines and kidney. When the calcium level returns to normal, parathyroid hormone production slows down.

    Primary hyperparathyroidism is caused by swelling of one or more of the parathyroid glands. This leads to the release of too much parathyroid hormone, which raises the level of calcium in the blood. The term "hyperparathyroidism" generally refers to primary hyperparathyroidism.

    Rarely, the disease is caused by parathyroid cancer.

    The disease is most common in people over 60, but can also be seen in younger adults. Hyperparathyroidism in childhood is very unusual.

    Women are more likely to be affected than men. Radiation to the head and neck increases your risk.