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About the Parathyroid Glands

The parathyroid glands are tiny glands (usually 4) located within the thyroid gland in the neck. The parathyroid glands produce parathyroid hormone, which helps control the amount of calcium in the blood.

Although the thyroid and parathyroid glands are “neighbors”, and both are part of the endocrine system, they are otherwise unrelated. They have different functions—and similar and confusing names!

Calcium is the mineral in the body that makes up the bones and teeth and keeps them strong. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in the body is stored in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is in the blood and soft tissues and is essential for life and health.

The body needs calcium to build and repair bones and teeth, help nerves function, make muscles contract, clot blood, and allow proper function of the heart.

Under normal conditions, the level of calcium in the blood is carefully controlled. When blood calcium levels fall, calcium is released from bones to restore proper blood levels. When blood calcium levels rise, the excess calcium may be stored in bone or passed out of the body in urine and stool.

The Role of the Parathyroid Glands
The function of the parathyroid glands is to regulate the calcium level in the body within a very narrow range. If the calcium level goes down in the blood, the parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone which goes to the bones, “takes” some calcium out and puts it into the blood. When the calcium in the blood is high enough, the parathyroid glands stop releasing parathyroid hormone.

To learn more about the parathyroid glands, select from the list of topics and resources.

  DISORDERS OF THE PARATHYROID GLANDS
DiGeorge Syndrome
Hypoparathyroidism
Parathyroid Cancer
Pseudohypoparathyroidism
  There are other rare conditions of the parathyroid glands. To find more information about some of these conditions, use the section of this site called Rare Diseases A to Z.


  PARATHYROID GLANDS TESTS AND PROCEDURES
If your child has been diagnosed with a condition of the parathyroid glands, the doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests. For other tests and diagnostic procedures use the section of this site called Medical Tests A to Z.
Alkaline Phosphatase
Bicarbonate
Calcium (Ca)
Calcium (Ca) in Urine
Chloride
Genetic Testing
Parathyroid Hormone
Phosphate in Blood
Phosphate in Urine
Thyroid and Parathyroid Ultrasound
X-Ray—Extremity

  RESOURCES FOR PARATHYROID GLANDS DISORDERS

This listing provides you with Internet sites that are sponsored by government agencies or are well-known and credible national organizations.

» Go to the Parathyroid Glands Resource Directory


  AUDIO & VIDEO CLIPS FROM YOUR DOCTOR

Last modified on: 30 June 2015