The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, Patient Education Site

Signs and symptoms of
parathyroid disease

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Worsening Quality of Life

The signs and symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism can significantly affect and worsen a patient's quality of life. A number of studies have used different tools to determine just how much primary hyperparathyroidism affects a person's quality of life. These studies show that primary hyperparathyroidism patients had a worse overall quality of life than healthy control subjects in all areas that were measured. 30-33 Research has shown that surgery can improve many of these symptoms and improve the quality of life for a majority of patients. In most studies, up to 80% to 95% of patients reported improvement in vague symptoms following cure. 16, 32, 34, 35 In particular, substantial improvement was noted in emotional problems and body pain. 24 Researchers have created a primary hyperparathyroidism-specific quality of life measurement tool that includes both classic and non-classic symptoms, and looked at 13 disease specific items in all. Called the Parathyroidectomy Assessment of Symptoms (PAS) scores, the items included symptoms of bone and joint pain, fatigue, mood swings, depression, abdominal pain, weakness, irritability, memory loss, headaches, pruritis, increased thirst and proximal muscle weakness. Following successful parathyroidectomy the primary hyperparathyroidism patients reported a significant improvement in quality of life, even up to 10 years later. 32 Interestingly, even for patients who do not feel like they have any symptoms, many patients will feel better after the operation and will comment that they did not realize how poorly they were feeling. One study looked at this phenomenon and assigned patients without symptoms to have either an operation or no operation. Those patients who had an operation did better socially and emotionally than those who did not have an operation. 37 It is important to note that although many patients notice an improvement, not all patients do because there are many possible other causes for these non-specific symptoms.

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