Hypercalcemia and Hyperparathyroidism: Have You Ever Heard of Them? Part 1 of 2
Last updated: June 2023
I wanted to share my experience with how I was diagnosed with hypercalcemia and hyperparathyroidism to help others who may deal with the symptoms of this like I have for years but knew nothing about.
Learning I have hypercalemia
With having Alpha 1, which can cause lung and liver problems, I need to keep in check with my liver with most of the meds that I am on. With that test, they test many things which include your calcium level, and I also get monthly blood draws for the arthritis meds that I am on.
I never noticed that they did before, but I noticed when it came up high in September's lab work. After seeing that, I looked back at other labs and saw that in the past, on a few blood tests, my calcium was high or in the high normal range.
So, at my next appointment with my RA (rheumatologist) Dr. in October, I asked him about it. He checked his records and said, “yes, that is high. Let’s check into that”.
I had another blood test that day, and he also checked other levels. While waiting for my labs to come back, I did some research on what it meant to have high calcium in my blood.
It meant that I had what's called hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia is too much calcium in the blood. It is most often caused by overactivity in the four tiny glands in the neck (parathyroid glands) or from cancer (which is very rare).
Extra calcium in the blood affects many body systems. After looking into other things that can cause high calcium, I decided, for now, to wait for my blood test results.
As my bloodwork results came back, the office called to tell me that my calcium came back high again and that my PTH (parathyroid hormone) came back high as well. The normal range for PTH is 18.5-88.0, and mine came back 289, so my Dr then sent me to an endocrinologist who took all my labs again and had me do a 24-hour urine which also checks calcium, PTH, vitamin d, and other things.
The process of this is to rule out other things, such as kidney problems, etc., and for a clear diagnosis. While waiting for these results, I was still doing a lot of research and found lots of great information if my diagnosis came to be what I thought it was.
My results were in and my diagnosis was Hyperparathyroidism which the only cure is surgery. Hyperthyroidism occurs when one or more of the parathyroid develops a tumor, which makes too much hormone leading to high calcium and other bad symptoms. They must remove this tumor to be cured.
Symptoms of hyperparathyroidism
Low Vitamin D levels, osteoporosis, bone pain, dizziness, nausea, kidney stones, easily broken bones, hair loss, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and much more.
You could experience any of these, although some don't present with any symptoms, only high blood labs. I had many of these symptoms but always thought it was because of my COPD or RA and the meds that I was on.
If the surgery isn't performed, there are many high risks, including stroke, cancer, and heart disease, among other things.
To go back a bit as a side note, my husband and I had been planning our annual trip (if you have followed some of my articles, you may have read where my husband and I take an annual winter trip) and had planned to go to Tampa, Florida in January.
You’d never have guessed that in the research that I was doing while waiting for my diagnosis was that there was a number 1 ranked parathyroid center in the nation, the Parathyroid Surgery Center in Tampa, Florida, that accepts most insurance and was one of the few hospitals that were checking all four of the parathyroids correctly that should be done with surgery.
I told my husband I thought this was meant to be and would check more into it. After going back to my Dr. for follow-up and for him to tell me the news I already knew from my lab results, I told him about finding the Tampa Center and that I would like to go there for surgery if they would accept me. I could go there at the time that we had planned our vacation there.
It was a go from him and the surgery center. After getting all of my records and having online video appointments with my surgeon, my surgery was scheduled for January 16th, which gave my husband and me ten days to enjoy in Florida before my surgery.
Have you had an experience with this? I’d love to hear yours here in the comments below.
Join me for part 2: The Surgery Journey, where I will share my experience.
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