Quality of Life Interventions from the Columbia University Department of Surgery
Thyroid and Parathyroid Disorders
William B. Inabnet, MD
Director, Columbia University New York Thyroid/Parathyroid Center
Columbia University Medical Center
in Affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Thyroid disorders are extremely common in the U.S., with over 20 million people
undergoing treatment. Women are especially vulnerable, as thyroid disease is up to eight
times more common in women than in men. Parathyroid disorders are generally less
common, occurring twice as often in women. Because these disorders tend to have
multiple symptoms, may involve ongoing medical consultations, and sometimes require
specialized surgery, a dedicated center such as the New York Thyroid/Parathyroid Center
of Columbia University can be a good approach to treatment.
Located just above the collar bone, the thyroid gland secretes hormones the body depends
upon to regulate metabolism. The four parathyroid glands surround the thyroid gland and
secrete hormones that regulate blood calcium levels.
Thyroid and parathyroid disorders include:
Hypothyroidism—thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone. Symptoms include
fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, increased sensitivity to cold, and depression.
Hyperthyroidism—thyroid gland produces too much hormone, speeding up metabolism.
Symptoms include sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating,
nervousness and irritability, goiter (enlarged thyroid).
Thyroid nodules/lumps—can indicate the presence of cancer, but most often are
noncancerous with no symptoms. Symptoms of thyroid cancer include hoarseness, or
trouble swallowing or breathing.
Hyperparathyroidism—parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone.
Symptoms include fatigue, frequent urination, bone demineralization (osteoporosis) and
Diagnosis of thyroid and parathyroid disorders is often simple, consisting of a blood test
and a physical examination. If you have a sudden onset of symptoms resembling a
thyroid or parathyroid disorder, you should not hesitate to visit your primary care