An adenoma is a tumour on an organ or gland. These tumours are benign and do not present a cancer threat, but they can create a serious problem with the organs or glands they are attached to. A parathyroid gland adenoma is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.
Even though the parathyroid does not create the same hormones as the thyroid that they are attached to, they create vital hormones for heart and bone health. The amounts of hormones produced by these very small glands located on the back of the thyroid at the tops and bottoms of each side have an impact on how much the thyroid secretes.
About the signs and treatment of a parathyroid gland adenoma
Diseases of these glands can be genetic and more likely in women than men. Parathyroid adenoma can be detected with simple blood tests. Localisation of the culprit gland can be made with imaging – options available include ultrasound, neck CT scans, MRI or parathyroid sestamibi scanning. Further investigation may also be needed to check for irregularities in the systems impacted by the disease such as heart disease, bone density and kidney stones. Ask your doctor to check for parathyroid gland adenoma anytime you suffer from any of the most common symptoms also associated with parathyroid disease.
The signs and symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism are those of hypercalcemia. They are classically summarized by the mnemonic “stones, bones, abdominal groans and psychiatric moans”. Hyperparathyroidism causes symptoms relating to bones (bone related complications including osteoporosis), stones (kidney stones), groans (gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, peptic ulcer and pancreatitis) and moans (psychological symptoms including depression). The potential symptoms resulting from hyperparathyroidism are listed below.
Signs of a parathyroid gland adenoma
- Unexplained weakness
- Persistent headaches
- Muscle pain or aches
- Changes in bowel functions
- Mood swings
- Changes in menstrual cycles and sex drive
- Changes in mental acuity, memory problems and trouble concentrating
- Dry or itchy skin
- Intolerance to heat or cold
- High or low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Profuse sweating
- Trouble sleeping
- Appetite changes, weight loss or gain
- Double vision or changes in eyesight
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Changes in blood sugar levels
Beware, however, that often there are no symptoms of a parathyroid gland adenoma. In all likelihood, many of the symptoms are present, but are mild and thought of as just a regular annoyance such as an occasional headache or being tired.
Patients should never ignore the symptoms of an adenoma. Long term effects can cause heart disease, kidney failure and increase the likelihood of complications from bone disease as well. Patients with an untreated parathyroid gland adenoma may have shorter life expectancies from the strain the fluctuating hormones create on their system.
A parathyroid gland adenoma will be cured by surgical removal. When caught before complications of long term disease are present, recovery is complete. All four of the glands produce the same hormones, so removal of one, two or even three parathyroid glands does not affect daily life after recovery. Patients can live perfectly normal lives with one, or even just half, of one parathyroid gland present.
If you have questions or concerns about parathyroid or thyroid gland problems, contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.
For more information about parathyroid gland related issues click here.