Your body has four small parathyroid glands, one located on each corner of the thyroid gland. Their responsibility is to produce correct amounts of the parathyroid hormone (PTH), which is responsible for maintaining the correct balance of phosphorus and calcium in your body. When this balance is interrupted, it can have mild to serious effects on your health.
Hyperparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid glands produce too much PTH, disrupting the body’s calcium and phosphorus levels. Abnormally high amounts of calcium are found in the blood, and phosphorus levels drop to abnormally low levels. Although symptoms are often non-existent or only experienced as minor aches and fatigue, serious complications can develop, including:
- Kidney stones
- High blood pressure
- Increased thirst and urination
- Peptic ulcers
- Poor memory
If diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism, your doctor may run a bone density test to assess your risk of osteoporosis, and/or urine and imaging tests to monitor your kidney function and check for kidney stones. These tests allow your doctor to see how seriously your health is threatened by the disease, and provide appropriate treatment. If you have no serious complications, your doctor may recommend close monitoring of the condition without treatment. If symptoms develop, treatment can include hormone replacement therapy, medications, and surgery. Surgical treatment involves the removal of one or more parathyroid glands through a small incision in the neck, and can usually be performed as an outpatient surgery.
Hypoparathyroidism occurs when too little P.C.H is produced, resulting in unusually low calcium blood levels and unusually high phosphorus blood levels. Symptoms of hypoparathyroidism include:
- Excessive nervousness
- Muscle cramps
- Unwanted muscle contraction resulting in uncontrollable twitching and convulsions