What is hypoparathyroidism?

Hypoparathyroidism is caused by underactive parathyroid glands. Parathyroid glands are small glands located next to the thyroid. Underactive parathyroid glands do not produce enough parathyroid hormone. This causes low levels of calcium in the bloodstream. The low levels of calcium lead to muscle spasms, or tetany, an increased excitability of the nerves, and disturbances in heart rhythm.

Causes of hypoparathyroidism include accidental removal of a parathyroid gland when the thyroid is removed, or when part of the parathyroid tissue is removed. Other causes include absent parathyroid glands from birth or the sudden decline in function due to unknown reasons.

What are symptoms of hypoparathyroidism?

The following are the most common symptoms of hypoparathyroidism. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Uncontrollable, painful spasms of the face, hands, arms, and feet

  • Seizures

The symptoms of hypoparathyroidism may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is hypoparathyroidism diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for hypoparathyroidism may include blood tests to measure the parathyroid hormone levels.

How is hypoparathyroidism treated?

Specific treatment for hypoparathyroidism will be determined by your doctor in consultation with you.

Considerations include such things as:

  • Your health status and past health history

  • Severity of the condition

  • Your willingness to take medications and tolerate medical procedures

  • Your beliefs and health care practices

Treatment may include an injection of calcium to provide immediate relief and/or taking calcium and vitamin D tablets for the rest of the patient's life.

Medical Reviewer: [Foster, Sara RN MPH, Gaskin, Kelly RN, MSN, CPNP] Copyright: Copyright © 2007 Staywell Content Services, Inc. except where otherwise noted.


Popular Diabetes Related Slide Show