Parathyroid glands are small glands of the endocrine system which are located in the neck behind the thyroid. There are 4 parathyroid glands in the human body. Parathyroid glands control the calcium in our bodies – how much calcium is in our bones, and how much calcium is in our blood. Parathyroid glands secrete or make a hormone, called parathyroid hormone or PTH. The parathyroid glands measure the amount of calcium in the blood every minute of every day and if the calcium levels go down a little bit, the parathyroid glands recognize it and make parathyroid hormone (PTH) which goes to the bones and takes some calcium out and puts it into the blood. When the calcium in the blood is high enough, then the parathyroid glands shut down and stop making PTH.
The single major disease of parathyroid glands is over-activity of one or more of the parathyroids which make too much parathyroid hormone causing a potentially serious calcium imbalance. This is called hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism occurs when one (or more) of the four parathyroid glands grows into a tumor and behaves inappropriately by constantly making excess parathyroid hormone. The enlargement of the parathyroid gland is called parathyroid adenoma. This out of control parathyroid gland is essentially never cancerous, however, it slowly causes damage to the body because it induces an abnormally high level of calcium in the blood which can slowly destroy a number of tissues. Symptoms of hyperparathyroidism are loss of energy, depression, osteoporosis, bones hurt, high blood pressure, recurrent headaches, and etc.
A person can easily live with one (or even ½) parathyroid gland. However, removing all parathyroid glands will cause very bad symptoms of too little calcium or hypoparathyroidism. Hypoparathyroidism is characterized by low levels of PTH, which decreases the amount of calcium in the blood. Nerve and muscle cells are unable to function properly. Causes of...
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