Definition

What is hypoparathyroidism?

Hypoparathyroidism is an uncommon condition in which your body secretes abnormally low levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH is key to regulating and maintaining a balance of your body’s levels of two minerals — calcium and phosphorus.

The low production of PTH in hypoparathyroidism leads to abnormally low calcium levels in your blood and bones and to an increase of phosphorus in your blood.

Supplements to normalize your calcium and phosphorus levels treat the condition. Depending on the cause of your hypoparathyroidism, you’ll likely need to take supplements for life.

How common is hypoparathyroidism?

This is a very rare condition, and most commonly occurs because of damage to or removal of parathyroid glands at the time of parathyroid or thyroid surgery. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of hypoparathyroidism?

The common symptoms of hypoparathyroidism are:

  • Tingling or burning (paresthesia) in your fingertips, toes and lips
  • Muscle aches or cramps in your legs, feet, abdomen or face
  • Twitching or spasms of your muscles, particularly around your mouth, but also in your hands, arms and throat
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Painful menstruation
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Dry, coarse skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Depression or anxiety

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

 

Causes

What causes hypoparathyroidism?

There are a number of causes of hypoparathyroidism:

  • Underdeveloped or missing parathyroid glands at birth
  • Medical treatment (radiation to thyroid gland, drug treatment, thyroid or parathyroid surgery)
  • An underlying medical condition such as cancer, neck trauma, Addison disease, Wilson’s disease, too much iron in tissues, low levels of magnesium

Risk factors

What increases my risk for hypoparathyroidism?

There are many risk factors for hypoparathyroidism, such as:

  • Family history of parathyroid disorder
  • Thyroid or neck surgery
  • Taking medications that suppress the parathyroid gland
  • Surgery or removal of the parathyroid gland
  • Autoimmune condition

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is hypoparathyroidism diagnosed?

A doctor who suspects hypoparathyroidism will take a medical history and conduct a physical exam.

Blood tests

These findings on blood tests might indicate hypoparathyroidism:

  • A low blood-calcium level
  • A low parathyroid hormone level
  • A high blood-phosphorus level
  • A low blood-magnesium level

Your doctor might also order a urine test to determine whether your body is excreting too much calcium.

How is hypoparathyroidism treated?

The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and to normalize levels of calcium and phosphorus in your body. A treatment regimen typically includes:

  • Oral calcium carbonate tablets. Oral calcium supplements can increase calcium levels in your blood. However, at high doses, calcium supplements can cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as constipation, in some people.
  • Vitamin D. High doses of vitamin D, generally in the form of calcitriol, can help your body absorb calcium and eliminate phosphorus.
  • Parathyroid hormone (Natpara). The Food and Drug Administration has approved this once-daily injection for treatment of low blood calcium due to hyperparathyroidism. Because of the potential risk of bone cancer (osteosarcoma), at least in animal studies, this drug is available only through a restricted program to people whose calcium levels can’t be controlled with calcium and vitamin D supplements and who understand the risks.

Diet

Your doctor might recommend that you consult a dietitian, who is likely to advise a diet that’s:

  • Rich in calcium. This includes dairy products, green leafy vegetables, broccoli and foods with added calcium, such as some orange juice and breakfast cereals.
  • Low in phosphorus. This means avoiding carbonated soft drinks, which contain phosphorus in the form of phosphoric acid, and limiting meats, hard cheeses and whole grains.

Intravenous infusion

If you need immediate symptom relief, your doctor might recommend hospitalization so that you can receive calcium by intravenous (IV) infusion, as well as oral calcium tablets. After hospital discharge, you’ll continue to take calcium and vitamin D orally.

Monitoring

Your doctor will regularly check your blood to monitor levels of calcium and phosphorus. Initially, these tests will probably be weekly to monthly. Eventually, you’ll need blood tests just twice a year.

Because hypoparathyroidism is usually a long-lasting (chronic) disorder, treatment generally is lifelong, as are regular blood tests to determine whether calcium in particular is at normal levels. Your doctor will adjust your dose of supplemental calcium if your blood-calcium levels rise or fall.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hypoparathyroidism?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with hypoparathyroidism:

There are no specific actions to prevent hypoparathyroidism. However, if you’re scheduled to have thyroid or neck surgery, talk to your surgeon about the risk of damage to your parathyroid glands during the procedure.

If you’ve had surgery involving your thyroid or neck, watch for signs and symptoms that could indicate hypoparathyroidism, such as a tingling or burning sensation in your fingers, toes or lips, or muscle twitching or cramping. If they occur, your doctor might recommend prompt treatment with calcium and vitamin D to minimize the effects of the disorder.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: September 6, 2017 | Last Modified: September 6, 2017

Want to live your best life?
Get the Hello Doktor Daily newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.