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Hyperparathyroidism (cont.)

Hyperparathyroidism Causes

  • Hyperparathyroidism is not an uncommon disorder. About 100,000 people in the U.S. develop it each year. It is more common in women, and in the older population its incidence can be as high as 1 in 1000.

  • In the majority of cases the cause of hyperparathyroidism is not known. In over 95% of people, hyperparathyroidism occurs sporadically.

  • In about 5% of cases, however, there can be a genetic basis for developing the disorder. A rare inherited syndrome called familial multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN I) is associated with hyperparathyroidism.

  • In some cases, all four of the parathyroid glands are somewhat enlarged and secrete excessive amounts of hormones. This is referred to as hyperplasia.

  • In other cases, one of the four glands functions autonomously, and produces excessive hormone on its own. Usually this gland is enlarged and is referred to as an adenoma (a type of benign tumor).

A condition referred to as hypocalciuric hypercalcemia, is often confused with hyperparathyroidism. In this condition, the kidneys do not excrete the normal amounts of calcium. It is not a severe disorder and is not the same as hyperparathyroidism.

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