The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, Patient Education Site

Signs and symptoms of
parathyroid disease

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Summary

Primary hyperparathyroidism causes abnormally high blood calcium levels mainly be "stealing" calcium from the bones. Every cell and organ in the body uses calcium as a signal to regulate their normal function. Therefore, it is crucial that calcium levels are tightly controlled. Abnormally high blood calcium levels can damage every organ in the body gradually over time. In the past, generations of doctors learned the classic symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism through the saying "bones, stones, and groans" which represented weakened bones, kidney stones, and abdominal pain. In addition, many patients also had "psychic moans and fatigue overtones" which indicated mood disturbances and fatigue. In extreme cases of severe elevations of blood calcium levels called "hypercalcemic crisis," patients may present in comatose or near-comatose states with organ failure. However, today most patients are diagnosed through routine blood testing or screening for osteoporosis and many patients have only vague, non-specific symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism
Figure 2: Signs and symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism


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