Philadelphia ENT
Pediatric ENT

Thyroid and Parathyroid Disorders

Thyroid

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities are your body's metabolism.

  • Thyroid problems include
  • Goiter - enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Hyperthyroidism - when your thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs
  • Hypothyroidism - when your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormones
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid nodules - lumps in the thyroid gland
  • Thyroiditis - swelling of the thyroid

To diagnose thyroid diseases, doctors use a medical history, physical exam, and thyroid tests. They sometimes also use a biopsy. Treatment depends on the problem, but may include medicines, radioiodine therapy, or thyroid surgery.

Parathyroid

Most people have four pea-sized glands, called parathyroid glands, on the thyroid gland in the neck. Though their names are similar, the thyroid and parathyroid glands are completely different. The parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH), which helps your body keep the right balance of calcium and phosphorous.

If your parathyroid glands make too much or too little hormone, it disrupts this balance. If they secrete extra PTH, you have hyperparathyroidism, and your blood calcium rises. In many cases, a benign tumor on a parathyroid gland makes it overactive. Or, the extra hormones can come from enlarged parathyroid glands. Very rarely, the cause is cancer.

If you do not have enough PTH, you have hypoparathyroidism. Your blood will have too little calcium and too much phosphorous. Causes include injury to the glands, endocrine disorders, or genetic conditions. Treatment is aimed at restoring the balance of calcium and phosphorous.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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