Joseph W Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD
Endocrinology, Diabetes and Thyroid Specialist located in Charleston, SC and Summerville, SC
You already know your body needs calcium, but you may not know that four tiny glands — the parathyroid glands — play a significant role in your body’s ability to use it properly. Without the right calcium balance, your muscles and nerves don’t function optimally, and your bones can get brittle. That’s why Joseph Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD, and the team at Palmetto Endocrinology offers specialized treatment of parathyroid disorders at their office in Summerville, South Carolina. To learn more, call the office or request your parathyroid care appointment online today.
Parathyroid Disorder Q & A
What are the parathyroid glands?
The parathyroid glands are two pairs of pea-sized, oval-shaped glands in your neck. Together, these four glands produce parathyroid hormone (PTH), which is responsible for keeping the calcium levels in your body balanced. Specifically, PTH allows your body to:
- Absorb calcium from food
- Release calcium from your bones into your bloodstream
- Conserve calcium in your kidneys
- Transform vitamin D in your kidney to best support calcium absorption
When your body is low in calcium, the parathyroid glands create more PTH to increase calcium absorption from your food while allowing your bones to reabsorb more calcium, too.
At least, that’s the function of the parathyroid glands when healthy. But parathyroid disorders can interrupt this process.
What are the most common types of parathyroid disorders?
There are two types of problems that can occur with your parathyroid glands:
When your parathyroid glands produce too much PTH, you have hyperparathyroidism. Common symptoms of this condition include:
- Abdominal pain
- Kidney stones
- Excess urination
You experience these symptoms because the hypoparathyroidism increases the levels of calcium in your blood, and causes hypercalcemia.
Conversely, if your glands don’t make enough PTH, you have hypoparathyroidism. The symptoms with this condition include:
- Muscle cramping, pain, and spasms
- Burning and tingling sensations in your extremities
- Hair loss
- Dry skin and nails
Without sufficient PTH, your body doesn’t maintain enough calcium in your bloodstream.
How is a parathyroid disorder diagnosed and treated?
If you’ve experienced any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to come to Palmetto Endocrinology. With their Endocrine Certification in Neck Ultrasound (ECNU), the team can use an ultrasound to get a clear look at your parathyroid glands. They may use additional testing like a blood test to confirm your hypoparathyroidism or hyperparathyroidism, and then they tailor a treatment to your needs.
If you have hypoparathyroidism, you’ll usually take oral doses of calcium and vitamin D along with a supplemental parathyroid hormone.
If you have hyperparathyroidism, medication may balance your PTH levels. If not, a surgeon can remove one or more of your parathyroid glands to bring your PTH levels down and give you relief from your symptoms.
For more information about your parathyroid disorder treatment options, call Palmetto Endocrinology, or book your appointment online today.