What is Hypoparathyroidism?

Nat Robinson
Nat Robinson

Hypoparathyroidism is a medical condition that occurs when the parathyroid glands produce too little hormones. These glands are located in the neck, near the thyroid glands. Parathyroid hormones play an important part in the human body by maintaining healthy levels of calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus in the bones and blood. Hypoparathyroidism can cause calcium levels to become too low and phosphorus levels to get too high. This condition can cause a number of physical problems, including muscle cramps, deformed teeth and stunted or delayed growth.

Primary hypoparathyroidism means that the parathyroid glands are the direct cause of the problem; this is the most common form of this condition. There are many possible circumstances which can affect these glands and cause them to malfunction. As the parathyroid glands are located near the thyroid glands, a thyroid surgery can cause an accidental injury to the parathyroid glands and alter their functionality. In many cases, problems arise from a benign or malignant growth on the parathyroid glands. The condition may run in families, therefore, it may be inherited.

Secondary hypoparathyroidism is caused by another health condition. The condition becomes problematic by causing calcium to be lowered to an unhealthy level in the body. If this happens, the parathyroid glands will work overtime to make up for lack of calcium. There are certain deficiencies that may cause this to happen. Some of the most common conditions involve deficiencies in vitamin D, magnesium and calcium.

The symptoms of hypoparathyroidism can vary, and most people will generally have diverse symptoms. Many people experience muscle cramps and spasms in the face, throat, hands, legs and feet with this condition. Fatigue, nervousness, abdominal pain, dry hair and skin and problems with memorization can be other symptoms. As this condition affects vitamin D and calcium in the blood and bones, young children with this condition may have delayed or stunted growth. The formation of the teeth may be affected as well.

Doctors will typically conduct blood tests to check calcium, phosphorous and magnesium levels to diagnose this condition. The test may be done after a period of fasting, as foods may affect the level of these elements in the blood. Once the condition is confirmed, a hypoparathyroidism treatment will be put into place.

Treatment for this condition generally involves calcium and vitamin D supplements. A low phosphorus diet will also be recommended. In some cases, calcium may be administered to the patient intravenously. Patients must have regular check-ups to monitor calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood.

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Discussion Comments


Surgery is not an option for hypoparathyroidism.

Hyperparathyroidism ( the opposite of hypoparathyroidism where the parathyroid produces too many hormones) is usually treated with the removal of the gland. But it isn't a treatment option for hypoparathyroidism.

This can be confusing to people that are not aware of this condition, as even medical professionals are!

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