Skip to main content

Understanding Parathyroid Disorders

Understanding Parathyroid Disorders

Most people know that calcium is an integral part of their bones, the hard material that gives strength to their skeleton. These seemingly solid components of your body are, however, in constant renewal. 

Calcium from your bones is also a reservoir for serum calcium in your bloodstream. This level is carefully controlled by parathyroid hormone (PTH), which is produced and released by four pea-sized parathyroid glands. These glands sit behind the two wings of the thyroid gland in your throat. 

Parathyroid disorders usually indicate problems with the level of serum calcium. Left untreated, these issues can lead to conditions such as kidney stones or osteoporosis. As specialists with parathyroid and thyroid diseases, the team at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates are the physicians you want in your corner to diagnose and treat your parathyroid issues. 

Types of parathyroid disease

As with other hormone-producing glands, parathyroid disorders are typically classed as overproducing or under-producing. Respectively, these are called hyperparathyroidism and hypoparathyroidism. Each condition has different effects on a patient. 

Symptoms of hyperparathyroidism

The most common parathyroid disorder, hyperparathyroidism happens when one or more of the glands overproduce PTH. The most common reason for this is benign tumors. Mild forms of hyperparathyroidism may demonstrate no symptoms at all. When minor symptoms occur, they include: 

When hyperthyroidism is more severe, you may notice: 

Hypercalcemia is the blood condition triggered by hyperparathyroidism. When it becomes chronic, it can contribute to osteoporosis, kidney stones, high blood pressure, and heart disease. 

The risks of hypoparathyroidism

Hypoparathyroidism is less common. It’s usually caused by surgery or other damage to the glands, though autoimmune system attacks can be responsible too. 

Hypoparathyroidism doesn’t typically cause symptoms, but it does increase your risk of Parkinson’s disease, pernicious anemia, and cataracts. You may also be at risk of developing Addison’s disease, but only if your condition is caused by immune system problems. 

Parathyroid cancer

Though it’s extremely rare, parathyroid cancer can cause hyperparathyroidism, which is often a bigger health threat than the cancer itself. When parathyroid cancer happens, it usually appears in patients in their 50s. Once treated, it frequently reappears in the same location, unless calcium levels in the blood are carefully controlled. 

Diagnosing parathyroid disorders

Blood tests to check calcium and PTH levels are typically the earliest diagnostic step. After a parathyroid disorder is confirmed, testing may continue to determine if any damage has occurred to your body. 

Most of these tests are types of common diagnostic imaging, including ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Bone densitometry uses low-dose ionizing radiation to determine the extent of osteoporosis. In some cases, you may have further bloodwork to determine vitamin D levels. 

Contact Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates by calling the most convenient office in Lawrence or Ottawa. As with many health conditions, early detection leads to better outcomes for your health. Book your appointment today. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

Adjusting Well to Your Hearing Aids

Corrective devices all carry adjustment periods. Eyeglasses tend to be easy, particularly if you’ve worn glasses for years. Hearing aids are another matter. Generally, these take longer to feel like your new normal.

How to Relieve Your Acute Sinusitis Symptoms

You might think of acute sinusitis as a remnant of a cold or flu, a sinus infection, or just plain stuffiness. A sinus infection can create miserable headaches and uncomfortable breathing conditions. Here are some ideas to help.

5 Signs of an Adult Ear Infection

Ear infections aren’t only a problem for youngsters. Adults can get them, too, but usually not with the same frequency as kids, who have their youthful anatomy working against them. A middle ear infection can be painful, no matter your age. 

Helpful Tips on How to Protect Your Hearing

Just as your risk of skin cancer rises with every sunburn, your risk of hearing loss increases with every dangerous exposure to loud noise. Last night’s rock concert may not have an immediate effect, but it contributes over the long haul.

Why Do I Lose My Voice Easily?

Losing your voice can be a disconcerting feeling, when you open your mouth and nothing comes out except a breathy rasp of a sound that barely carries your words. Chronic or recurrent dysphonia points to problems other than respiratory infections.

How Do I Know if My Thyroid Isn't Functioning Properly?

Problems with the thyroid gland start when it either over- or under-produces its native hormones. The resulting symptoms depend on which side of the disorder you experience. However, it’s sometimes hard to trace symptoms back to the thyroid.