You might have hyperparathyroidism – a condition that affects 1-2% per cent of us and tends to go under the radar due to the vague symptoms that present.
Endocrine, Breast and General Surgeon Mr Amro Labib from the Endocrine Surgery Centre says the good news is, treatment is minimally invasive day surgery and has very successful outcomes.
“Patients feel much better, with more energy and an improved sense of wellness,” Mr Labib says.
“It’s very rewarding for me – I love to see the immediate effect of the surgery.”
The parathyroid glands are small glands of the endocrine system located in the neck behind the thyroid. They control the amount of calcium in our bones and blood. Usually we have four parathyroid glands that are normally the size of a grain of rice.
Mr Labib says hyperparathyroidism occurs when one or more of the glands grows into a tumour and makes excess parathyroid hormone, known as PTH.
“PTH raises blood levels of calcium by increasing intestinal absorption of calcium and by dissolving calcium from the bone into the bloodstream,” Mr Labib says.
“Hyperparathyroidism is very unlikely to be a cancer issue, but it does have a huge impact on patient`s wellbeing.”
The possible symptoms of hyperparathyroidism include:
- Fatigue, don’t feel well and tired all the time
- Sleep difficulties, interrupted sleep with lack of concentration during the day
- Excessive urination
- Headache that doesn’t go away
- Mood swings, spouse claim you are harder to get along with
- Aches and pains in bones and joints
In advanced cases you may have:
- Kidney stones
- Osteoporosis and bone fracture
- Pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas)
- Psychotic illness
- Heart disease and palpitations.
How is Hyperparathyroidism diagnosed?
A blood test will determine elevated levels of calcium and PTH. Normal PTH levels are between 1 and 7. If it`s more than that then you need to see your endocrine surgeon.
You will have an ultrasound or nuclear medicine scan in which 85 per cent of tumours can be found.
Minimally invasive surgery involves the removal of the affected gland and blood test results will indicate a decrease in PTH levels back to its normal value immediately after the procedure (while the patient is in recovery room).
If the tumour cannot be detected by a scan, you will have a 4-gland exploration where all the glands can be found and only the abnormal one(s) will be removed.
Negative scans usually means that more than one gland is affected.
Mr Labib says if you feel you have any of these symptoms, talk to your GP about having your blood tested.
“You never know, it might be worth your while to have it investigated. Most patients would come to see me after surgery and say: I feel much better now!”