If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know that we have discussed the various components of the endocrine system briefly, as well as ways to maintain the health and wellness of your endocrine system. While we’ve also covered topics like diseases of the thyroid and parathyroid, as well as treatment options, we haven’t covered the differences between these two glands. While they share a name, they don’t necessarily share the same functions or purpose. In today’s blog, the endocrine specialists at the Texas Thyroid & Parathyroid Center in Austin will explain the differences between your thyroid and parathyroid.
For many, the fact that these two glands have very similar names leads them to think that they are interchangeable. But beyond the name, the two glands are similar in some ways. Both of them are part of the endocrine system and produce and release hormones that influence how your body functions. Both glands are located in the neck, just below your larynx. In fact, your parathyroid glands are actually hidden on the backside of your thyroid glands. But these are the only real similarities. There are many differences between the two glands.
The thyroid is wrapped around your trachea and is shaped like a pair of wings. Your thyroid is one of the busiest glands in your body, responsible for the proper functioning of dozens of processes and organs. Most importantly, this gland produces three distinct and critical hormones: Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4), and Calcitonin. When your thyroid functions normally, it produces and releases these hormones into your bloodstream, where they boost your energy levels, maintain your metabolism, manage your calcium levels in your blood, and other tasks.
Your thyroid is susceptible to a host of issues and complications that can keep it from functioning normally. An overactive or underactive thyroid can have a major impact on your entire body. These conditions, known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism respectively, can lead to issues like moodiness, sudden and dramatic weight loss or gain, aches and pains across the body, feelings of anxiety or even depression. Other diseases of the thyroid include Graves’ disease, which causes a swelling of the thyroid and leads to hyperthyroidism, and Hashimoto’s disease, where your body’s immune system begins to systematically destroy your thyroid gland, resulting in hypothyroidism, or symptoms similar to it.
On the back of your thyroid is four small glands that make up your parathyroid. Like the thyroid, the parathyroid produces a trio of hormones that keep your body running. Notably, your parathyroid produces parathyroid hormone. This hormone regulates your levels of vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in your bloodstream. To keep these levels in balance, the parathyroid hormone sends signals to your bones, your intestine, and your kidneys to either absorb more of these materials or to expel them in the form of urine.
When your parathyroid is not functioning as it should, the result is an imbalance of calcium and other minerals. If the parathyroid is fooled into thinking that the body needs more calcium in the bloodstream, this mineral might be released from your bones. This leaves your bones brittle and susceptible to injuries like fractures and breaks.
Ensuring that these glands function normally is a part of sustaining your long-term health and wellness. If your suffering from complications with either of these glands, it’s time to schedule an appointment with Austin’s leading parathyroid surgeon, Doctor Teresa Kroeker. With years of experience, hundreds of successful surgeries, and advanced training with world-renowned programs, Dr. Kroeker can quickly and easily resolve your thyroid and parathyroid issues. Arrange your appointment at the Texas Thyroid & Parathyroid Center today.