Thyroid and parathyroid disorders

Thyroid and parathyroid disorders

Diagnosing thyroid and parathyroid disorders can be challenging because the symptoms can resemble those of other conditions. By embracing a holistic perspective, our multidisciplinary team collaborates closely to provide comprehensive care to patients. We work with mental health professionals, nutritionists, and other specialists to address the diverse needs of patients and provide holistic support.

    Overview: thyroid and parathyroid disorders

    Thyroid disorders cover a range of conditions that can affect the thyroid gland’s ability to regulate metabolism properly.

    Parathyroid disorders involve issues with the small glands, typically four in number, located in the neck.

    Thyroid disorders cover a range of conditions that can affect the gland’s ability to regulate metabolism properly. Management of thyroid disorders can be challenging because they can affect different organs and functions of the body. Whether there’s too much or too little production of thyroid hormones, called hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, respectively, thyroid disorders can vary from harmless goiters to serious cancer.


    • Hyperthyroidism

    Characterized by an overactive thyroid gland, it manifests when the thyroid produces excess hormones. Common symptoms include irregular heartbeat, fatigue coupled with insomnia, increased hunger, weight loss, anxiety, and heat intolerance. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, is a prevalent cause of hyperthyroidism, requiring treatments. Other causes, such as a toxic nodule, can lead to hyperthyroidism. This happens when a single nodule (or lump) develops in the thyroid gland, leading to an overproduction of thyroid hormones.


    • Hypothyroidism

    Characterized by an underactive thyroid, it manifests with insufficient hormone production. Symptoms may include fatigue, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, depression, dry skin, and muscle pain. Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder, is a leading cause of hypothyroidism, often requiring hormone replacement therapy to restore metabolic balance.


    • Thyroid nodule

    A thyroid nodule is a lump or enlarged area in the thyroid gland. An enlarged thyroid gland can be felt as a lump under the skin at the front of the neck. If the enlargement is noticeable, it is referred to as a goiter. Thyroid nodules or goiters can require medical intervention if they cause symptoms or impact thyroid function. Most thyroid nodules are benign and do not spread beyond the thyroid. Sometimes, a fine needle aspiration may be necessary to ensure a nodule’s benignity.


    • Thyroid cancer

    It occurs when malignant cells develop in the tissues of the thyroid gland. Malignant thyroid nodules may be identified through imaging tests of the neck and by sampling tissue through fine needle aspiration. Fortunately, most cases of thyroid cancer can be effectively treated by surgery and radioactive iodine therapy.


    From medication regimens and surgical interventions to radioactive iodine therapy and minimally invasive procedures, a range of treatments is available to address thyroid dysfunction effectively.


    Combining conventional treatments with lifestyle modifications and holistic practices may help improve symptoms and enhance overall health and wellness. Diagnosing and treating thyroid disorders requires a comprehensive approach customized to each patient’s condition.

    Our experts may use several tests to determine if you have a thyroid disorder:


    • Physical exam

    During a routine visit, a physical exam may be performed to assess your neck for any growths or signs of thyroid enlargement. This is a simple and painless procedure.


    • Blood tests

    Measuring the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood is a reliable way to diagnose thyroid issues. A small blood sample will be taken from a vein in your arm.


    • Imaging tests


    1. A thyroid ultrasound: It can be used to examine your thyroid gland and help identify abnormalities, such as enlargement or the presence of nodules.
    2. Iodine uptake test: A thyroid scan using iodine or technetium can evaluate the function and structure of the thyroid gland.


    All previously mentioned disorders may require different treatments depending on their cause. Treating thyroid disorders requires a comprehensive approach customized to each patient’s condition. 


    With careful evaluation and customized treatment plans, individuals with thyroid disorders can achieve optimal management of their condition and improve their overall quality of life.


    Parathyroid disorders involve issues with the small glands, typically four in number, located in the neck. These glands produce a parathyroid hormone, PTH, that regulates calcium levels in the body. When these glands malfunction, abnormal calcium levels in the blood can result, leading to complications such as fragile bones, kidney stones, fatigue, weakness, and other health problems.


    • Primary hyperparathyroidism

    Hypercalcemia in primary hyperparathyroidism occurs due to benign parathyroid tumors that typically have benign growths within the parathyroid glands. Certain factors, such as a history of neck radiation, exposure to nuclear radiation, or genetic predispositions, may increase the risk of developing parathyroid tumors. Symptoms of a parathyroid tumor are primarily attributed to hypercalcemia and can range from bone pain and kidney issues to fatigue, depression, and gastrointestinal disturbances.


    • Secondary hyperparathyroidism

    Secondary hyperparathyroidism is defined by a compensatory increase of PTH in response to a low calcium serum concentration. It is frequently caused by hypovitaminosis D or some medications. Secondary hyperparathyroidism can also be due to advanced kidney diseases.  


    • Hypoparathyroidism 

    The opposite disorder, hypoparathyroidism, occurs when the glands produce insufficient PTH, causing low blood calcium levels and affecting muscle and nerve function. This imbalance can have significant repercussions on overall health and well-being. The clinical symptoms include cramps, paresthesias, and tetany attacks. Outside of damage from surgery, this is a rare disorder with various potential causes, such as autoimmune conditions, genetic factors, or magnesium deficiency.


    Treatment for parathyroid disorders focuses on restoring the balance of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. This may involve medication, dietary changes, and lifestyle adjustments. 


    In addition to conventional treatments, incorporating holistic approaches such as stress management techniques, herbal supplements, and acupuncture may also be beneficial. 


    If a tumor is present, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive parathyroidectomy procedure or standard neck exploration surgery.


    Our experts may use several tests to diagnose a parathyroid condition: 


    • Blood tests

    These include checking PTH and calcium levels and analyzing blood and urine samples. Sometimes, a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D blood test can be performed for a more thorough assessment.


    • Imaging scans

    Bone densitometry (DEXA) and computed tomography (CT) may be used to detect the effects of hyperparathyroidism. Ultrasound, MIBI scan, and choline PET scan allow the localization of the parathyroid adenoma.


    Consult our experts

    Our services are carefully designed to provide to your individual needs, offering a holistic approach that addresses both physical and emotional well-being.

    Dr. Isabelle Fromont

    Dr. Isabelle Fromont

    Consultant Endocrinologist & Diabetologist