Parathyroid Disorders

Controlling Your Calcium

The parathyroid glands are located in the neck and control the body's calcium levels. They produce a hormone called parathyroidhormone (PTH).

When your body produces too much or too little of this hormone the body can overcompensate leading to the conditions below.

  • Hyperparathyroidism: Hyperparathyroidism is a condition in which one or more of the parathyroid glands become overactive and secrete too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). In return, this causes the levels of calcium in the blood to rise, a condition known as hypercalcemia.
  • Hypercalcemia: Hypercalcemia means there is a higher than normal level of calcium in your blood. One of the most common causes is simply digesting too much calcium carbonate in the form of Tums® or Rolaids®. Additionally, certain medications and conditions can cause this such as hydrochlorothiazide and other thiazide diuretics, lithium, and excessive intake of vitamin D, vitamin A or calcium.
  • Hypoparathyroidism: Hypoparathyroidism is decreased secretion or activity of parathyroid hormone (PTH). This leads to decreased blood levels of calcium and increased levels of blood phosphorus.
  • Hypocalcemia: Hypocalcemia is an electrolyte imbalance and is indicated by a low level of calcium in the blood. The most common sign of hypocalcemia is what is called "neuromuscular irritability." Your nerves and muscles, which are directly related to blood calcium levels, may spasm or twitch. You may notice muscle cramps in your legs or your arms.