The hyperparathyroidism blood test, sometimes referred to as the Intact PTH blood test, is ordered when there is an abnormal calcium level that has been detected. This helps a medical provider be able to determine whether the cause is parathyroid related.
This blood test can also be used to monitor specific conditions, such as a chronic kidney disease. It may also be ordered frequently for those who are on dialysis.
It is not unusual for calcium blood tests to be ordered with the hyperparathyroidism blood test. This is because the balance between calcium and PTH must be evaluated. Overall levels are important to detect, but how the parathyroid glands are responding to calcium is also important to review.
When Should I Ask About the Hyperparathyroidism Blood Test?
This blood test is often ordered when other testing indicates that there are high or low levels of calcium present in the blood. It is also commonly ordered when someone presents with the signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia or hypocalcemia.
The symptoms of hypercalcemia may include abdominal pain, fatigue, increased thirst, and nausea.
As for hypocalcemia, the most common symptoms are abdominal pain and muscle cramps. Some people may also experience a frequent tingling in their fingers or toes, similar to the feeling when a body part “falls asleep” when circulation to it has been restricted and then restored.
This blood test is also commonly ordered whenever someone who is known to have hyperparathyroidism is about to undergo a surgery. This creates a baseline reading to ensure that a removal of the abnormal gland tissues has been completed.
What Do My Hyperparathyroidism Blood Test Results Mean?
Medical providers will be evaluating calcium blood test results with hyperparathyroidism test results to determine overall levels and balance. If both levels are normal, then this is an indication that the regulation system for calcium within the body is functioning as it should be.
If the hyperparathyroidism blood test results are low, then this can be an indication that there is an abnormality in PTH production. The same is true for results that are high. This only applies if calcium levels are within a normal range when compared to the results of this blood test.
Here is a brief summary of what the test results are and what a medical provider may interpret from that data.
Low calcium, but high PTH: This indicates that PTH is responsive, but there could be another cause of hypocalcemia that would need to be evaluated.
Low calcium with low/normal PTH: This indicates that hypoparathyroidism is likely the cause of the bothersome signs and symptoms.
High calcium with high PTH: This is an indication that the parathyroid gland is producing too much PTH. This test result is usually followed by imaging studies to determine the extent of the problem.
High calcium, but low PTH. This indicates that PTH is responsive, so there is another reason for the hypercalcemia levels.
Normal calcium, but with high PTH. This is usually an indication that mild hyperparathyroidism is present.
It is important to note that there are certain drugs that are known to increase PTH levels. This includes certain steroids, phosphates, anticonvulsants, and medications that are used to treat mental disorders or illnesses.
Here’s What You Need to Know
There is a direct connection between the amount of calcium a person has and PTH levels. For this reason, the hyperparathyroidism blood test is almost always ordered after an abnormal calcium test is reported. Some may offer this test as part of a regular annual checkup, but it is most often ordered when signs and symptoms of a calcium issue are present.
It is also possible to have an abnormal PTH level without experiencing any bothersome signs or symptoms. This occurs when calcium levels change slowly. In this instance, the only way to detect the health issue is to find the abnormal calcium level and then have the PTH levels checked as a follow-up.
If you have a vitamin D deficiency, this will affect how the calcium is being absorbed. This will cause an imbalance in the metabolism that can promote changes to PTH levels, especially during the winter months when sunlight is available less often. Dietary choices that limit vitamin D can enhance these changes.
Should you be experiencing the signs and symptoms described in this guide, then it is important to discuss with your medical provider about the possibility of the hyperparathyroidism blood test being right for you. Be prepared to be given a calcium blood test first in order to answer that question.