published Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Ask a doctor: Q: What is hyperpara-thyroidism and why should I care?

By Dr. W. Heath Giles

Q: What is hyperpara-thyroidism and why should I care?

A: Hyperparathyroidism (HPTH) is a disease caused by the overproduction of parathyroid hormone (PTH), by one or more parathyroid glands, which leads to elevated blood calcium levels. Parathyroid glands live in your neck and are responsible for maintaining normal blood calcium levels. HPTH affects women twice as often as men. The symptoms of HPTH mainly occur due to the elevated blood calcium levels and can include fatigue, muscle and joint aches and pains, depression, difficulty concentrating, constipation, kidney stones and osteoporosis. Untreated, HPTH can cause severe osteoporosis and have devastating effects on a person's quality of life. If you have persistently elevated blood calcium levels with no other identifiable cause, you should have a PTH level checked. This is a curable disease. Surgery is typically performed through a tiny neck incision, and often you can go home the same day.

— Dr. W. Heath Giles, University Surgical Associates; member Chattanooga-Hamilton Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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