Q: Where are the parathyroid glands located?
A: There are four of them, and they are located at the back of the thyroid
Q: What purpose do the parathyroid glands serve?
A: They are responsible for the regulation of calcium in the bloodstream. They control the calcium level by affecting a variety of organs including the kidney, intestines, and bones.
Q: What is hyperparathyroidism?
A: Hyperparathyroidism is a condition in which the parathyroid creates more of the parathyroid hormone than it needs to, causing an imbalance in the amount of calcium in the body.
Q: What are the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism?
A: Common symptoms include depression, fatigue, forgetfulness, trouble sleeping, bone pain, muscle weakness, abdominal pain, constipation, frequent urination, and much else.
Q: How do I know I have hyperparathyroidism?
A: You need to get tested. A combination of an elevated calcium and PTH level usually confirms hyperparathyroidism.
Q: How do I get diagnosed?
A: We use a very technically challenging test called a Sestamibi Scan, which helps us find the bad gland. To precisely locate the gland, a CT Scan is sometimes also used. For accurate results you should use an experienced CENTER.
Q: Can I take drugs to treat parathyroid disease?
A: Unfortunately, no. There are no drugs that can effectively treat parathyroid disease. You will need surgery.
Q: Will one bad gland mean I have to remove the ones that are close to it as well?
A: No, not at all. Thanks to advancements we now use a minimally invasive approach, and only operate on one side of your neck, using a very small incision. This is called a minimally invasive parathyroidectomy. Because we can be so precise, we are able to only remove the affected gland, while not damaging the rest.
Q: What is parathyroid cancer?
A: Parathyroid cancer is a cancerous growth in a parathyroid gland. It usually occurs in people over the age of 30, with men and women being equally affected. The cause of parathyroid cancer is unknown, but people who have had head or neck radiation may be at an increased risk. Such radiation exposure is, however, more likely to cause thyroid cancer.
Q: If I have parathyroid cancer, will there be signs?
A: Usually and/or eventually, yes. Symptoms of parathyroid cancer are primarily caused by high levels of calcium in theblood and may affect various parts of the body. Individuals suffering from parathyroid cancer often experience bone pain, constipation, fractures, kidney stones, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and poor appetite. Symptoms also include frequent thirst and urination.
Q: Are there any preventative measures I can take to avoid parathyroid disease?
A: Actually, yes. Iodine deficiency in diets is one of the major causes of hypothyroidism. Foods like iodized salt, seafood and vegetables have sufficient iodine content and eating plenty of them can help prevent the occurrence of hypothyroidism. Veggies like Brussels sprouts, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnips and beans can help inhibit the excess production of thyroid hormones. Essential fatty acids, like fish, nuts, and seeds, are also critical to thyroid function because they are involved in metabolizing nutrients.
Q: I have heard many patients who suffer from parathyroid disease also develop osteoporosis, is this true?
A: Yes, it is true. When you have hyperparathyroidism the system does not work properly, and you have too much parathyroid hormone. All patients will hyperparathyroidism will continue to lose calcium from their bones every single day the parathyroid hormone is high. Because of the high levels of parathyroid hormone, all patients will eventually develop osteoporosis. If you wait long enough it will happen, which is why it is important to fix the problem before it gets worse.
Q: What are the treatment options for hyperparathyroidism?
A: Actually, there is only one treatment option, and that is surgery. Parathyroid disease is caused by a tumor, and you need surgery to remove it. Surgery is the only treatment option that will cure it. Luckily, the procedure is minimally invasive.
Q: What exactly is a parathyroid tumor?
A: A parathyroid tumor is a growth inside a parathyroid gland which may cause increased levels of parathyroid hormones secreted by the parathyroid glands. This, in turn, leads to increased levels of calcium in the blood, which is known as hypercalcemia.