The parathyroid glands help control calcium levels. Surgery is done to find and remove a gland that’s causing problems.
Overview of the parathyroid glands
The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands in the neck that make parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH helps keep the correct levels of calcium in your blood and in tissues that need calcium.
Hyperparathyroidism is a condition in which one or more of the parathyroid glands makes too much PTH. This signals your body to make more calcium available. Your body then takes calcium from your bones and sends it into your blood.
But because your bones need calcium to stay strong, this can cause problems. These include weaker bones and higher chances of breaking a bone.
Calcium also plays a big role in how well your central nervous system (the brain and spine) works. If your calcium levels are off, you might start to feel weak, confused or have trouble concentrating.
There are many symptoms of parathyroid gland problems. Some of the most common are:
- Pain in the joints and bone breaks
- Premature thinning of bones, known as osteopenia
- Severe bone loss, or osteoporosis
- Kidney stones, high blood pressure and ulcers
Lesser symptoms include low energy, fatigue and feeling “out of it.”
The most common cause of hyperparathyroidism is a noncancerous growth on one of the glands. This growth, called an adenoma, makes the gland swell in size.
Surgery is the most common treatment for hyperparathyroidism and usually results in a cure. A surgeon will remove only the glands that are affected. Your body doesn’t need all four glands. After the surgery, your PTH levels will start to return to normal.