The parathyroid glands are responsible for secreting parathyroid hormone to manage the body’s calcium levels. The glands ensure appropriate functioning of the nervous and muscular systems. Calcium is required for muscles to contract, and calcium levels are extremely important to the normal transmission of electrical currents along nerves.
Four parathyroid glands (size of a rice grain) are located at the back of the thyroid gland. Though these glands are situated very close to the thyroid gland, they have different functional altogether. The thyroid gland regulates the body’s metabolism, while parathyroid glands have no effect on metabolism.
PTH (Parathyroid hormone) is an influential hormone that instigates the cells of your bones to release their calcium into the blood.
- Parathyroid hormone maintains the amount of calcium absorbed from your diet i.e. how much calcium is stored in your bones and excreted by your kidneys.
- We reserve great amount of calcium in our bones which is readily available at the request of the parathyroid glands.
- Parathyroid hormone promotes the formation of active vitamin D, which in turn augments phosphorus absorption and intestinal calcium.
Diseases associated with the parathyroid glands
When parathyroid glands release too less or too much parathyroid hormone it negatively affects your body in multiple ways. Some of the common disorders linked with parathyroid glands are listed below:
- Hyperparathyroidism: When PTH is released in excess quantity, regardless of the calcium levels, it causes hyperparathyroidism. In simpler terms, even when the calcium levels in the body are normal, parathyroid glands continue to make large amounts of PTH.
- Hypoparathyroidism: This is a rare condition where the parathyroid glands produce inadequate levels of PTH which leads to hypocalcaemia (decreased blood levels of calcium) and hyperphosphatemia (increased levels of blood phosphorus). The condition occurs due to damage to parathyroid glands during parathyroid or thyroid surgery.
- Osteoporosis: Out of four parathyroid glands, when one is overactive, it releases more than required PTH. This leads to constant release of calcium by your bones into the blood stream. The bones lose their density and hardness without adequate calcium. Osteoporosis is a health condition connected with the loss of calcium and bone density.
The parathyroid glands have sole accountability of looking after the calcium levels in the body. These glands are equally important organs of the endocrine system
. Moreover, they are critical to the proper functioning of the nervous and muscular systems.