The thyroid and parathyroid are glands in the neck that produce hormones responsible for regulating many body functions. Diseases of both glands are common, and usually revolve around too much or too little hormone production.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that uses iodine to produce hormones that regulate metabolism. The most common thyroid condition is hyperthyroidism, an overabundance of thyroid hormones. Several disorders can cause hyperthyroidism, including Grave’s disease, toxic adenomas (nodules in the thyroid gland), goiter, subacute thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid), pituitary gland malfunctions, and cancer. Symptoms include weight loss, irregular rapid heartbeat, anxiety, irritability, sweating, tremors, and increased sensitivity to heat.
Another common condition is hypothyroidism, which occurs when too little thyroid hormone is produced. This results in low energy levels and sluggishness. Hypothyroidism can be the result of an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s disease, thyroid gland removal, excessive iodine consumption, and lithium. Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, muscle and joint aches, and weakness.
As dangerous as both conditions can be, they are easily treated and managed.
There are a total of four parathyroid glands in the body; they are about the size of a grain of rice, and are responsible for regulating calcium levels in the body. Like the thyroid, the parathyroid glands can also produce too much or too little hormone. An overactive gland is usually the result of a parathyroid adenoma, a type of benign tumor, and causes hyperparathyroidism. Symptoms include osteoporosis (fragile bones), kidney stones, excessive urination, abdominal pain, bone and joint pain, tiredness, and weakness.
Conversely, hypoparathyroidism is the result of a lack of calcium, and can be caused by injuries to the parathyroid glands, endocrine disorders, or genetic conditions. Symptoms may include tingling in the extremities, muscle aches and spasms, fatigue, weakness, anxiety, depression, and headaches.
As with thyroid disorders, parathyroid conditions are also easy to treat.