Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Click a letter to see a list of conditions beginning with that letter.
Click 'Topic Index' to return to the index for the current topic.
Click 'Library Index' to return to the listing of all topics.

The Parathyroid Glands

Anatomy of the parathyroid glands

The parathyroid glands are 4 small, oval-shaped glands. They are located next to the 2 thyroid gland lobes in the neck. Each gland is often about the size of a pea.

Outline of front of neck showing thyroid, parathyroids ghosted in, and surrounding blood vessels and nerves.

Function of the parathyroid glands

Parathyroid glands produce parathyroid hormone (PTH). This hormone plays a key role in regulating calcium levels in the blood. Precise calcium levels are important because small changes can cause muscle and nerve problems.

PTH stimulates these functions:

  • Release of calcium by bones into the bloodstream, which affects bone density and strength

  • Calcium absorption from food by the intestines

  • Calcium conservation by the kidneys

  • Kidney cell stimulation, which changes the weaker forms of vitamin D into the form that is strongest at absorbing calcium from the intestines

Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Contact Our Health Professionals
Follow Us