Primary hyperparathyroidism is rare in teens, becoming more common as people get older, with a peak incidence at age 60, when one in 250 women and one in 800 men will develop a parathyroid tumor. Women get hyperparathyroidism three times more commonly than men, but we don’t know why this is. Although people of almost any age can get hyperparathyroidism, the most common person is a woman between the age of 40 and 80.
In 95% of cases, there is no “reason” for the development of a parathyroid tumor. It just happens. In the other five percent, the parathyroid tumor formed because the patient was exposed to radioactive iodine some 20 or more years earlier for a thyroid (not parathyroid) problem, had x-ray treatments to their neck for acne or an enlarged thymus or some other reason some 30 or more years ago, or took the drug lithium for 15 or more years. Hyperparathyroidism is genetic (inherited) in less than 1% of cases. In 95% of cases, parathyroid tumors form for no reason at all.
Some of the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism are different in women and men. Men with hyperparathyroidism get kidney stones twice as often as women. Although both men and women develop chronic fatigue, women develop depression symptoms more often than men. The age of the patient also makes a difference. Younger patients get heart palpitations while older patients develop heart beat abnormalities (like atrial fibrillation). Younger patients with hyperparathyroidism are also more likely to get headaches, while middle aged people are more likely to get GERD and stomach problems. Osteoporosis will form in all patients with hyperparathyroidism regardless of their age or whether they are a man or woman.
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