What is the parathyroid gland?
The parathyroid glands are four glands in the neck that produce parathyroid hormone, which helps the body maintain a balance between calcium and phosphorus. If they produce too much or too little of the hormone, the balance can be upset.
Function of the parathyroid gland
The balance between calcium and phosphorus can be disturbed if the parathyroid glands produce too much or too little hormone. The first case is known as hyperparathyroidism, in which the level of calcium in the blood increases. In some cases a benign tumor in these glands can increase their activity, in others the excess of hormones can lead to an increase in the size of the glands and, in more isolated cases, even to the development of cancer.
If insufficient hormones are produced, the pathology is known as hypoparathyroidism, where the calcium content in the blood is insufficient and the phosphorus content is excessive. Among its causes may be lesions in the glands, endocrine disorders or genetic conditions.
Hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and cancer are pathologies associated with the parathyroid gland.
Pathologies that the parathyroid gland may suffer from
There are three pathologies that can develop in the parathyroid gland: hyperparathyroidism, hypoparathyroidism and cancer.
– Hyperparathyroidism: calcium levels in the blood increase. Symptoms are various, including brittle bones that can cause brittle bones to break, kidney stones, excessive urination, abdominal pain, abdominal pain, fatigue or weakness, depression or forgetfulness, bone and joint pain, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
– Hypoparathyroidism: it is caused by a decrease in calcium levels in the blood and an excess of phosphorus. Symptoms may include numbness around the mouth, hands or feet, spasms, seizures, low blood pressure, lack of emotional stability, anxiety or depression, dental problems and coarse or brittle hair.
– Cancer: symptoms to detect a cancer in the parathyroid gland are difficulty in speaking or swallowing, muscle weakness, increased levels of calcium in the blood and if the patient finds a lump in the neck.
Treatments for parathyroid gland pathologies
– Hyperparathyroidism: to combat this pathology specialists resort to fluid intake to prevent the formation of kidney stones, recommend the patient to do physical exercise, avoid diuretics or undergo surgery for the removal of the parathyroid glands.
– Hypoparathyroidism: the objective is to restore the balance of calcium and minerals in the body. It can be treated with calcium carbonate and vitamin D supplements, in addition to PTH injections if the specialist deems it appropriate. Some of its symptoms, such as convulsions or spasms, can also be treated separately.
– Cancer: the most effective treatments are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, although the specialist will always proceed to the most effective treatment according to each particular case.
Specialist who treats pathologies of the parathyroid gland
The specialists who can treat the pathologies found in the parathyroid gland are experts in General Surgery, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Endocrinology and Otolaryngology. Depending on the case and the patient’s situation, it will be one specialist or another who will develop the diagnosis and subsequent treatment for the affected person.