Parathyroid Q & A
What should I know about the parathyroid glands?
Everyone has four tiny parathyroid glands located behind their thyroid. These glands produce parathyroid hormone, which regulates the amount of calcium in your blood, keeping it in a tightly controlled range. Hormones are chemicals that coordinate different functions in your body by carrying messages through your blood to your organs, muscles and other tissues. These signals tell your body what to do and when to do it.
Having just the right amount of calcium in your bloodstream is essential to keep your heart, nervous system, and muscles functioning normally.
When your blood calcium is too low, the glands release parathyroid hormone. The hormone boosts calcium levels by breaking down bones to release calcium. The glands can also increase your body’s ability to absorb calcium from food or prevent the kidneys from eliminating calcium.
What are the symptoms of parathyroid disease?
The symptoms of a parathyroid disease vary from person to person and depend on the underlying illness. Common indications include:
- Muscle weakness
- Increased need for sleep
- Joint pain
Over time, parathyroid disease also increases your risk of other chronic health problems, including high blood pressure, osteoporosis, kidney stones, and heart disease.
How is parathyroid disease diagnosed?
To diagnose parathyroid disease, the team at Ally Endocrinology orders several screenings, including:
- Blood tests
- Bone densitometry
- Ultrasound of the neck
- CT scan of the neck
- Sestamibi scan (nuclear medicine study) of the neck
Parathyroid disease typically only affects one parathyroid gland, but it can spread to several or all four.
How is parathyroid disease treated?
Treatment depends on the underlying type and severity of your symptoms. Typically, the team at Ally Endocrinology recommends conservative, noninvasive methods of care like prescription medication, nutritional supplements, and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
If these measures don’t prevent your parathyroid gland from overactive hormone production, surgical intervention may be necessary. The most common type of surgery used to treat parathyroid disease is minimally invasive parathyroidectomy.
During this type of surgery, the team administers general anesthesia. Once you fall asleep, they make a small incision in your neck. Your provider uses special tools to access your overactive gland and carefully remove it. Minimally invasive parathyroidectomy is quick and virtually pain-free. It allows for quicker recovery times and fewer complications than traditional surgery.
If you have a parathyroid disease or need testing, contact Ally Endocrinology for a comprehensive evaluation. Book online to schedule an appointment or call the nearest office today.
Learn more at Hopkins Medicine
This glands control the amount of calcium in our blood. Everyone has four parathyroid glands, usually located right around the thyroid gland at the base of the neck. About 1 in 100 people (1 in 50 women over 50) will develop the gland tumor during their lifetime, causing a disease called “hyperparathyroidism”. Hyperparathyroidism is a destructive disease that causes high blood calcium, which can lead to serious health problems. It can be cured by surgically removing the tumor. Hyperparathyroidism is not just an abnormal high blood calcium that can be monitored by your doctors. It is a serious disease that must be treated.