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What are parathyroid glands?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Your parathyroid glands are in your neck. They are directly behind your thyroid gland. You have four parathyroid glands, two on each side of your thyroid.

The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands, located in the neck, that control the body's calcium levels. Each gland is about the size of a grain of rice (weighs approximately 30 milligrams and is 3-4 millimeters in diameter). The parathyroids produce a hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH raises the blood calcium level by:
  • breaking down the bone (where most of the body's calcium is stored) and causing calcium release
  • increasing the body's ability to absorb calcium from food
  • increasing the kidney's ability to hold on to calcium that would otherwise be lost in the urine.  

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.