The parathyroid glands are four small glands that control the calcium levels in our body. They are located around the thyroid glands and are a part of your endocrine system. The parathyroid glands help control how the nerves in your body work, by regulating calcium and phosphorous levels. Without normal, steady levels of calcium and phosphorous you brain and body cannot function properly, leading to physical and psychological problems. Over 100,000 Americans experience some type of parathyroid problem each with women twice as likely to experience problems as men.
Parathyroid Risk Factors
Parathyroid conditions may be difficult to recognize but there are some risk factors you can consider. Common risk you for parathyroid problems include:
• Inadequate vitamins in the diet (namely vitamin D)
• Kidney problems
• Certain medications
• Neck or head radiation
When one of your parathyroid glands becomes abnormally large it will produce excess amounts of the parathyroid hormone, known as PTH. This condition is called hyperparathyroidism. If you are experiencing, hyperparathyroidism, tests for excess levels of PTH can be used for your diagnosis. Hyperparathyroidism may cause other health problems and worsen with time, so an enlarged gland must be removed.
Like many conditions, your symptoms will be dependent on your age and genetic predispositions. Signs and symptoms of hyperparathyroidism may not be obvious in your everyday life. After surgery however, most patients do notice how much better their body feels. Remember, parathyroid conditions can lead to more serious problems so removal is almost always advised. An individual who would benefit from parathyroid surgery my be experiencing:
• Loss of energy
• Indescribable “bad” feelings (mental or physical)
• Difficulty concentrating or remembering
• Muscle weakening
• Loss of interest in activates
• Stomach ulcers
• Nausea or vomiting
• Joint, bone or abdomen pain
• Sleep difficulties
• Increased thirst and urination
• Kidney stones
Your doctor can measure your PTH levels with simple tests, and determine how best to operate on the parathyroid gland(s) causing of your hyperparathyroidism. Parathyroid surgery is performed in a hospital under general anesthesia. An incision is made at your neck that can be cosmetically hidden within the creases of your skin. Once the incision is made, your doctor will look to see which parathyroid gland(s) need to be removed, (enlarged glands) and your incision will then be closed. After surgery is completed, the wound will be held together using surgical stitches, tape or glue. It is usually possible to enclose your incisions beneath the skin to minimize the looking of later scarring.
The entire operation usually takes one to two hours and requires around two weeks of recovery. We offer the latest technology in parathyroid surgery techniques, and have years of practice to ensure that your procedure runs smoothly. Your doctor will discuss with you the specifics of your procedure and what to expect prior to surgery.