Hyperparathyroidism (HPT) can cause physical and emotional symptoms that can look virtually identical to those associated with many other medical conditions. Thanks to advanced testing, HPT symptoms can be diagnosed and treated faster and more effectively than ever before.
How Is HPT Diagnosed?
Initially, doctors would look for four symptoms to diagnose HPT:
- Bone fractures (bones)
- Change in mental status (moans)
- High stomach acidity (groans)
- Kidney stones
These symptoms would appear in the late stages of HPT. They represent only a few of the symptoms that could affect HPT patients’ physical and emotional wellbeing.
HPT testing has evolved. Now, several advanced tests can be used to diagnose HPT in its early stages.
Blood tests are commonly used to analyze a patient’s calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels. A parathyroid gland tumor can disrupt the body’s calcium level. Meanwhile, HPT can cause the parathyroid glands to secrete excess amounts of PTH, which is used to regulate calcium in the blood.
Proper parathyroid disease diagnosis requires a careful evaluation of the relationship between the calcium and PTH levels in blood tests. For example, consider a patient with parathyroid glands that function normally.
If this patient’s calcium balance in the body falls below a normal level, their PTH level will rise. Comparatively, if the patient’s calcium level rises, their parathyroid gland can shut down. This can cause the patient’s PTH level to decline.
There is an inverse relationship between calcium and PTH levels in patients with parathyroid glands that work as expected. But, in a patient with an abnormal parathyroid gland, their calcium and PTH levels will both be higher than normal. In this instance, the parathyroid glands will continue to produce PTH that travels into the bones and releases calcium. At the same time, PTH will travel to the kidneys, which causes calcium to collect in the kidneys.
Along with blood tests, a 24-hour urine collection can be used as part of an HPT diagnosis. The urine collection can be performed if initial blood tests reveal a patient’s calcium and PTH levels are above-average. It allows a doctor to analyze the presence of calcium, creatinine, and other waste products typically removed by healthy kidneys.
Lab Tests for HPT Diagnosis
Dr. Babak Larian of the CENTER for Advanced Parathyroid Surgery is a parathyroid disease expert. In addition to blood calcium and PTH tests and a 24-hour urine collection, Dr. Larian can perform the following lab assessments to properly diagnose HPT:
- Vitamin D
- Magnesium and phosphorus
- Basic chemistry and creatinine levels
- Alkaline phosphatase
Lab tests are crucial for accurate HPT diagnosis. This is due to the fact that there is no such thing as “normal” presentation of HPT symptoms.
Non-Specific Symptoms for HPT Diagnosis
The severity of HPT symptoms does not always correlate to a patient’s blood calcium level. For instance, an HPT patient can experience debilitating symptoms, even if their calcium level is only slightly above-average. Or, an HPT patient could have a high calcium level but experience few to no symptoms.
Every patient has a unique presentation of parathyroid disease and must be evaluated individually. Non-specific symptoms of patients diagnosed with HPT include:
- Poor concentration
- Memory loss
- Sleep issues
- Bone pain
- Joint pain
- Muscle weakness
- Bone fractures
- Abdominal pain/acid reflux
- Weight loss
- Kidney stones
- Frequent and/or night-time urination
- Urinary incontinence
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Hair loss
It is crucial to look at a patient’s symptoms to accurately diagnose HPT. Evaluating the patient’s symptoms helps Dr. Larian diagnose HPT and determine the severity of the condition. This information plays a key role in determining appropriate treatment for HPT symptoms.
Pursue HPT Treatment Options Today
For those who experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, don’t wait to pursue medical treatment options. By undergoing appropriate testing, patients can find out if they are coping with HPT.
Dr. Larian can conduct comprehensive testing and assess a patient’s symptoms. If Dr. Larian determines a patient is dealing with HPT, he can recommend a minimally invasive parathyroid surgery or other treatment options, depending on the stage of the condition. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Larian, please contact us online or call us today at 310-461-0300.