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parathyroid conditions

Keeping your parathyroid glands healthy

Calcium and parathyroid conditions

Your parathyroid glands regulate the amount of calcium in your body. We’re here to keep them working properly, so you can feel your best.

What is the parathyroid?

Behind your thyroid sits four small organs known as your parathyroid glands. These tiny endocrine powerhouses produce the hormone that regulates the amount of calcium we have in our bodies. Proper levels of calcium in the blood are important for tooth and bone health, proper blood clotting and maintaining your heart’s rhythm.

When the parathyroid gland produces too little hormone, it’s known as hypoparathyroidism. When it produces too much, it’s called hyperparathyroidism.

What are the symptoms of hypoparathyroidism?

Hypoparathyroidism causes symptoms that include:

  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Brittle nails
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Muscle aches
  • Tingling sensation in lips, toes or fingers
  • Depression or anxiety

What are the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism?

Hyperparathyroidism symptoms may include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Muscle weakness
  • Increased urination

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Our specialists are trained in thyroid care. Schedule a consultation today.

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Risk factors for parathyroid conditions

There are certain behaviors, genetics and risk factors that can increase your chances of developing a parathyroid condition, including:

  • Family history: If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with a parathyroid condition, you have a greater risk for developing one.
  • Being female: Women who have gone through menopause are more likely to develop a parathyroid condition.
  • Other risk factors: Other risk factors that can increase the risk of developing a parathyroid condition include:
    • Previous cancer radiation therapy in your neck area
    • Having low vitamin D levels or levels of calcium

Diagnosing parathyroid disease

Our endocrinology specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating both hypoparathyroidism and hyperparathyroidism.

Some of the diagnostic tests your doctor may perform to test for these parathyroid conditions include:

  • Blood tests: Your doctor may start by ordering bloodwork to evaluate your calcium levels and PTH levels, as well as your levels of vitamin D.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound takes an image of your parathyroid glands using sound waves. Your healthcare provider will review these images to look for any concerning issues.
  • Imaging tests: Diagnostic imaging tests, such as MRIs, CT scans and PET scans, are used to produce detailed pictures of your parathyroid glands.

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Treating parathyroid disease

Our endocrinology team is experienced in diagnosing and treating all kinds of thyroid conditions, including hypoparathyroidism and hyperparathyroidism. 

Depending on the type and severity of your condition, one or more of the following treatments may be recommended. 

Lifestyle changes

You can make several lifestyle changes that your doctor may suggest to help manage your symptoms. These may include:

  • Increasing sleep
  • Exercise
  • Change in diet
  • Reducing stress
  • Emotional support

Your doctor may recommend prescription medications to help manage your symptoms and treat your parathyroid condition. This may include medications to regulate the amount of hormones your parathyroid glands produce.

Our surgeons use the latest techniques to treat parathyroid conditions, including minimally invasive surgery, to offer you the best outcomes and path for healing. Our team is highly trained and board certified, which means they have passed an optional national exam to demonstrate their medical expertise. Many of our surgeons are also fellowship trained, holding additional training in specific types of parathyroid surgeries.

If you are not experiencing parathyroid symptoms, your kidneys are functioning normally and your calcium levels are only slightly elevated, your doctor may suggested monitoring your condition over time.

Parathyroid care at Geisinger

Our endocrinology team is here to provide you with compassionate care and the most advanced available. We offer:

  • The knowledge you need – Your care team is powered by endocrinologists, surgeons, doctors and specialists with years of training and experience. Their expertise has been honed by treating many people with parathyroid issues every year. And their focus is on delivering the care best suited to your needs.

  • Care designed for you, where you live – With locations throughout northeast, central and south-central Pennsylvania, our experienced team provides consultations and comprehensive care. We offer leading-edge treatment options and tailored-to-you care, backed by the expertise and innovation of a nationally recognized health system. 

  • Comprehensive specialty care – Our endocrine specialists are dedicated to offering innovative treatment options and personalized care in convenient locations, so you don’t have to travel far. We’ll work with you to develop a personalized care plan based on your individual needs.

  • Genetic testing and counseling programs – Special research programs such as MyCode® are only available at Geisinger. Participating in MyCode allows you to contribute to genetic research. By participating, some may receive information about their own genetic risks. Learn about MyCode.