Parathyroid Gland & Its Importance in Human body
Many people confuse the parathyroid gland to be related to the thyroid gland. However, this gland and its functions are not related to the thyroid gland. Both these glands just happen to have somewhat similar names.
The function of the Parathyroid gland in our body is remarkable. It is responsible for regulating the level of Calcium in our body. However, it is incredible how these small glands with only function can have such a huge impact on the quality of our life.
Parathyroid Gland Location
The location of Parathyroid gland is often confused with the location of thyroid gland. It is located at the back of the thyroid gland. It consists of four small glands that are each the size of a grain of rice. All the four glands are located behind the thyroid gland. Parathyroid gland location can be better understood with the help of the picture above.
What is Parathyroid Gland
The Parathyroid Gland consists of four glands. These glands are as small as a grain of rice and are located at the back of the thyroid gland. However, the normal function of this gland is not related to the function of thyroid gland in any way.
Even though the size of the parathyroid gland is small, it is one of the most important glands in our body. The primary function of it is to regulate the level of calcium in our body.
Parathyroid Gland Size
The Parathyroid Gland is collectively made up of four glands. Each gland is normally the size of a grain of rice and is located at the back of the thyroid gland. However, if a person is suffering from hyperparathyroidism, one of the glands will grow to the size of a pea seed, an olive, and sometimes even a walnut.
In most cases, parathyroid gland disorders cause only one gland to grow a tumor. In a few cases, two of the glands will grow in size and will have tumors. It is extremely rare for all four glands of the parathyroid to go bad.
Parathyroid Gland Normal Function
The normal function of the Parathyroid glands is to regulate the level of calcium in our body. Calcium is a very important element for our body. In fact, calcium is the only element whose levels are regulated by specific glands in the body.
The parathyroid gland normal function is to look after the levels of calcium in our blood. It secretes a hormone called the Parathyroid Hormone or PTH. The parathyroid hormones signal bone cells to provide calcium when the level of calcium in the blood is low.
When the parathyroid gland normal function is disturbed, it causes a fluctuation of calcium levels in our body. Normally, only one of the glands has a tumor and starts to grow in size, which leads to over-secretion of the parathyroid gland hormones. This leads to parathyroid gland hormones extracting more calcium from the bones than necessary. As a result, there is a rise in the level of calcium in the blood. This leads to other problems in the body which are discussed further in the article.
Parathyroid Hormone and Calcium
To truly understand the importance of the parathyroid gland, we need to understand the importance of calcium. Calcium is responsible for conducting the electrical impulses between nerve cells in our body. Hence, our mood, motivation, focus, and reflexes are very much dependent on healthy level of calcium in our body. People generally look for high parathyroid hormone normal calcium levels. Parathyroid hormone and calcium are very closely related with each other.
Calcium is also responsible for conducting the signals between our muscle fibres. Therefore, people with low levels of calcium experience frequent fatigue and weakness. Even not so strenuous activity may cause soreness in the body of a person with low calcium.
Another important function of calcium is to maintain strength in our bones. Although this function of calcium is most widely known, the most critical function of calcium is to keep our nervous system at its best. Our bones act as storage houses for calcium and provide calcium to our body whenever there is a need. This need is fulfilled when parathyroid gland hormones signal the bones to provide calcium to our body.
Parathyroid Gland Other Functions
The primary function of the parathyroid gland is to regulate the level of calcium in our blood. It secretes the Parathyroid gland hormones (PTH or parathyroid hormone). Parathyroid hormones signal the bones to release more calcium in the blood if there is lesser calcium in the blood than the normal range of blood calcium. Similarly, they also signal the bones to release less calcium if the level of blood calcium is nearly adequate.
However, with its primary function, the parathyroid gland influences the function of almost every other organ system in the blood. However, there are three most important organ systems which it influences, which are:-
The most important function of calcium is to conduct electrical signals from one neuron to another. That is why the parathyroid gland has to make sure that there is always an adequate amount of calcium present in our blood and bones. When the amount of calcium in the blood is less, a person will feel depressed, sad, vulnerable, and less active. This is because the brain function in the person is compromised.
At the same time, too much amount of calcium causes a person to have trouble sleeping. At the same time, this person will also experience greater anxiety and a weak memory. However, normal level of calcium and as much PTH as the parathyroid gland hormones normal value keeps a person active and mentally as well as physically high functioning.
Another significant function of calcium is to conduct electrical signals between muscle cells. It is because of this that our muscles are able to contract and respond via reflexes with velocity. When there is less calcium in the blood, the person may feel weak, tired, and have soreness if involved in slightly strenuous activity.
With adequate amount of calcium in the blood, the muscles function at their best. Muscle recovery becomes better and so does muscle memory. That is why coaches press on the importance of calcium in athletes and sportspeople. Therefore, parathyroid gland hormones normal values should always be maintained.
One of the most important functions of bones is to store calcium in our body. They release this calcium into the blood when PTH signal bone cells to do so. If the PTH value in the blood is more than parathyroid gland hormone values, then the bones release more calcium.
A person suffers from hyperparathyroidism when the parathyroid gland malfunctions. In this case, there is a greater level of calcium in the blood as compared to parathyroid gland hormones normal values. This, if consistent over time, causes the bones to become weak and develop pores (osteoporosis).
Therefore, parathyroid gland normal function is really essential to lead a healthy, active, and joyous life.
Parathyroid Gland Hormones
The Parathyroid glands release a hormone known as Parathyroid hormone (PTH) into the blood stream. The function of parathyroid gland hormones is very critical for a quality life and good health. Parathyroid regulates the level of calcium in our body and uses the parathyroid hormones to do so.
When the level of calcium in our blood is low, the parathyroid gland releases more parathyroid gland hormones. The parathyroid hormones signal the bone cells to release more calcium into the blood. The nervous as well as the muscular system use this calcium to maintain proper muscle and brain function.
The second important function of the parathyroid hormones is to facilitate the conversion Vitamin-D into its other, more active form. It activates the conversion of 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D into 1,25- Dihydroxy Vitamin D in the intestines. The more active form of vitamin D causes the kidneys to eliminate less calcium and resorb some of it back from the urine it produces.
Parathyroid Gland Hormones Normal Values
The Parathyroid Gland Hormones Normal Values is 10-65 pg/mL or 10-65 ng/L. However, if you are getting a blood test for parathyroid gland hormones normal values, you must refer your doctor to interpret the test results. This is because different labs consider different parathyroid gland hormones normal values.
If your blood parathyroid hormone level is greater than the parathyroid gland hormones normal values, then it may indicate hyperparathyroidism (parathyroid gland disorders). However, you need to first check the calcium level in your blood serum. You most likely have parathyroid gland disorders if the calcium level in your blood is elevated along with the parathyroid hormones.
What is Parathyroid Gland Disorder
Parathyroid Gland Disorder happens when one or more of the glands of parathyroid has a tumor and grows in size. This leads to over secretion of the parathyroid hormones, causing a condition known as hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism means that there is an excess of parathyroid gland hormones in the blood.
Hyperparathyroidism leads to an excess of calcium in the blood stream of the patient. This causes the patient to feel ‘bad’ because levels of calcium directly affect the nervous system. It also slowly causes osteoporosis because the parathyroid gland hormones cause the bones to provide excess calcium. It also leads to issues like kidney stones.
Normally, only one of the glands of the parathyroid grows a tumor. In 8 out of 100 cases of hyperparathyroidism, patients have two or more glands that are affected. However, patients experience extreme relief from the parathyroid gland disorder symptoms almost immediately after a parathyroid gland surgery. In a parathyroid gland surgery, the surgeon removes the gland which has the tumor.
What does the Parathyroid do?
The function of the parathyroid is to regulate the level of calcium in our body. The parathyroid gland hormones have a very critical job of maintaining the level calcium within very narrow range. Parathyroid maintains the range of calcium in the blood between 9.0 to 10.1.
If the level of calcium in the blood is lower than 9.0, the parathyroid gland releases more parathyroid hormones. These hormones signal bone cells to release more calcium in the blood. At the same time, the hormones also facilitate the absorption of calcium back into the body from the urine that the kidneys make.
If there is excess of calcium in the body, there is less amount of parathyroid gland hormones in the blood. Thereby, bones release lesser calcium in the blood. The kidneys help in eliminating excess calcium from the body through urine.
Parathyroid Gland disorders diagnosis
If you observe parathyroid gland disorders symptoms, you should definitely go Parathyroid gland disorders diagnosis. A parathyroid hormone test is the best way to get a disorders diagnosis for the malfunctioning of this gland. You should also get a series of blood calcium tests to check the fluctuations of levels of calcium in your blood.
Once your parathyroid hormone test is done, you should share the tests results with the doctor. The doctor will compare your results with parathyroid gland hormones normal values and also consider your medical history. This, combined with the level of calcium in your blood, will give your doctor an accurate parathyroid gland disorders diagnosis.
If the level of parathyroid hormones is higher than parathyroid glands hormones normal values, then refer your calcium levels. If your calcium levels are also elevated, then you may be suffering from parathyroid gland disorders (hyperparathyroidism).
Parathyroid Gland Disorders Causes
There are several Parathyroid gland disorder causes. To understand those, you must first know the types of parathyroid gland disorders. Parathyroid gland disorder, hyperparathyroidism, is of three types – primary, secondary and tertiary. Hyperparathyroidism Causes are explained in detail in the following paragraphs.
Primary Parathyroid Gland Disorders Causes
Primary hyperparathyroidism happens when one or more the glands of parathyroid malfunction. Parathyroid Gland Disorders Causes are:-
- An abnormal growth (benign tumor) grows on the gland(s) which makes the gland over secrete the parathyroid hormone PTH.
- Enlargement of the gland(s) leading to making and secretion of excess parathyroid hormone.
- Growth of a cancerous tumor in one or more of the glands.
Secondary Parathyroid Gland Disorders Causes
A severe deficiency of calcium in the blood leads to Secondary Hyperparathyroidism. This causes the parathyroid to release excess parathyroid gland hormones to always make up for the deficiency of calcium in the blood.
The following Primary Parathyroid Gland Disorders Causes lead to this condition:-
- Deficiency of Calcium – Sometimes, the body does not absorb the calcium from the food properly. Other times, there is a deficiency of calcium in the diet that of the individual.
- Deficiency of Vitamin D – Vitamin D contributes significantly in the absorption of calcium from the food. A deficiency of vitamin D causes poor absorption of calcium as well as problem with its regulation.
- Kidney Failure – Kidneys convert Vitamin D into its more active form which helps in absorption of calcium from food. When kidneys go bad, vitamin D levels drop and cause calcium deficiency as well.
Tertiary Parathyroid Gland Disorders Causes
Tertiary Hyperparathyroidism is caused when parathyroid keeps over-secreting parathyroid hormone even after the calcium deficiency has been corrected. The tertiary Parathyroid gland disorder causes the calcium levels in the blood to rise above normal.
The main tertiary parathyroid gland disorders causes are linked with chronic kidney problems like kidney failure. Kidney malfunction leads to low levels of active vitamin D, low levels of calcium, and high phosphate levels in blood. Because of these reasons, there is a permanent overgrowth of parathyroid cells. These adenomas keep secreting parathyroid hormones and lose the ability to regulate their secretion.
Parathyroid Gland disorders symptoms
Parathyroid Gland disorders symptoms are quite specific. In many patients, at least one or multiple parathyroid gland disorders symptoms will show.
Calcium is such an important element in our body that specific glands are in place only for its regulation. Even though maintaining optimum calcium levels is critical, our bodies don’t like excess calcium. Elevated levels of calcium lead to many issues with our brain, muscles, bones, and kidneys.
In parathyroid gland disorders, i.e. hyperparathyroidism, levels of calcium become high. This is because one or more of the glands are malfunctioning and releasing excess hormones. The parathyroid hormones keep signaling the bones to release more calcium even though there is already an excess of it.
What are Parathyroid Gland Disorders Symptoms?
- Fatigue – because muscles can’t contract and conduct electrical impulses poorly
- Lack of motivation and joy
- Lack of concentration
- Aching bones
- Lack of sleep
- Gastric problems
- Kidney stones
- High Blood Pressure
- Frequent Headaches
- Irregular heart rate
Parathyroid Gland Disorders Treatments
Parathyroid Gland Disorders Treatments are successful in more than 90% of the cases. First, a doctor will do a full diagnosis for hyperparathyroidism. This will include tests for PTH levels, calcium levels, urine test, test for kidney stones, and test to measure bone density.
One of the ways of parathyroid gland disorders treatments is to closely monitor test reports over a period of time. If your bone density is normal or slightly below normal while your calcium and PTH levels are almost normal, the doctor will suggest some supplementation and put you on monitor.
However, the most effective one of all parathyroid gland disorders treatments is parathyroid gland surgery. It is usually a successful procedure in which doctor makes small incisions to remove the glands with the adenoma (tumor). If all of the glands have gone bad, the doctor will remove three of them and some part from the fourth.
As a part of successful parathyroid gland disorders treatments, you may have to take vitamin D and calcium supplements.
Parathyroid Gland Surgery
Parathyroid Gland Surgery is a highly successful procedure where the surgeon removes the gland that has the adenoma (tumor). You can function well without 1 out of 4 of the glands. In fact, even if you lose 3 out of 4 of the bad glands in the surgery, you can function well with only 1 gland.
Parathyroid gland surgery is not a very lengthy procedure. Surgeons use normal anesthetics and only require small incisions in the neck for the removal of the glands. Your doctor will allow you to go home the very same day. Patients with parathyroid gland disorders experience tremendous relief shortly after the parathyroid gland surgery.
Parathyroid Gland Disease Prevention
Hyperparathyroidism can be prevented using some home remedies for hyperparathyroidism. If you take up healthy habits, your body will maintain a healthy and holistic balance throughout. Some of the ways for prevention of parathyroid gland disease are:-
- Include proper amounts of calcium in your diet. The recommended dosage is 1g (1000 mg) a day for adults. Make sure that you’re getting plenty and measure the amount present in your blood too.
- Get enough vitamin D in your body. Our body gets vitamin D from sunlight and through some foods too. Consult your doctor and see if he suggests putting you on supplementation if your vitamin D levels are low.
- Drink water. Lots of water. Keep yourself hydrated. This will reduce the risk of kidney stones and keeps your body working at high potential.
- Stay active. Include exercise in your daily routine. Strengthening your muscles also helps strengthen your bones as your body is able to absorb calcium better.
- There are many medicines in the market that cause an increase in the level of blood calcium. Consult your doctor to check if your medicines are right or if there is a substitute for them.
- Smoking also affects the bones harmfully.