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What are the most common symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism?

Deva Boone
Answer authored by Deva Boone
Deva Boone, MD is the founder of the Southwest Parathyroid Center. As one of the most experienced parathyroid surgeons in the U.S., she has treated thousands of patients with parathyroid conditions.

Primary hyperparathyroidism can affect multiple organ systems and produce many different symptoms. The most common symptoms of parathyroid disease are fatigue and a general sense of not being well. Most patients will report some fatigue, which can range from mild tiredness to severe fatigue that makes it difficult to work or perform normal daily activities. This, along with other symptoms, can take the joy our of life.

Common Symptoms of Parathyroid Disease

  • Fatigue, getting tired easily
  • Low energy
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Insomnia, or not being able to sleep through the night.
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Heartburn
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination, or frequent urination throughout the night
  • Bone pain
  • Palpitations

Primary hyperparathyroidism can also lead to the following conditions (which have their own symptoms):

  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Fractures
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney stones
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation

Note that many symptoms are non-specific, meaning that they could be caused by many illnesses. Unfortunately, this means that patients are often misdiagnosed, sometimes for years. Women are often told that the symptoms are due to menopause, or premenopause. Men are told that these are just the signs of getting older. If you have high calcium and recently starting having the above symptoms, it’s not just old age - it’s a parathyroid tumor (the most common cause of primary hyperparathyroidism).

If left untreated, most people with primary hyperparathyroidism will develop symptoms or complications of the disease. Fortunately, the treatment is an outpatient procedure (parathyroid surgery). It is important to get this treated when it is diagnosed to prevent further complications of the disease.

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