Gilmer Free Press
Ask the Doctor: Overactive Glands Raise Blood Calcium
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My daughter, 55, has hyperparathyroidism with high blood calcium and some memory problems.
Can you give me information about it?
My mother had a goiter removed, and my son had an enlarged thymus gland when he was very young.
I have taken thyroid medicine for many years.
Could these problems have affected my daughter’s condition? - A.L.
ANSWER: Four small parathyroid glands are on the back of the thyroid gland in the neck.
They make parathyroid hormone, which regulates the blood level of calcium.
When the blood calcium level drops down, parathyroid hormone tells bones to release some of their calcium.
Your daughter’s condition has no relation to your mother’s, yours or your son’s ailments.
Hyperparathyroidism is an overproduction of parathyroid hormone.
Blood calcium level rises.
Over time, bones weaken even to the point that they break from a slight injury.
Kidney stones might form.
People become lethargic.
They’re not as mentally sharp as they once were.
However, all depends on how high the calcium has risen.
Many people have only a modest rise, and those people have no symptoms.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would like to know what those warty looking things on the upper eyelid are.
They’re cream-colored and kind of rough-looking.
I saw them on a loved one. - E.F.
ANSWER: I believe you’re talking of xanthelasma, an aggregation of cholesterol beneath the eyelid skin.
They’re yellowish or cream-colored streaks.
They might indicate high blood cholesterol.
On the other hand, they happen to people with normal cholesterol levels too.
If they’re a cosmetic annoyance, doctors can remove them in a number of ways - with a carbon dioxide laser, the application of trichloroacetic acid or surgically.
They also can be left alone. They’re harmless.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.