The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized glands. They are located next to the thyroid gland in the neck. The glands secrete the parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH helps to regulate the level of calcium in the blood.
In hypoparathyroidism, there is not enough PTH secreted. This causes low levels of calcium in the blood. Low blood calcium is known as hypocalcemia.
Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands: Posterior (Back) View
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Hypoparathyroidism may be caused by:
- Removal of the parathyroid glands
- Underlying autoimmune disorders
- Absence of the parathyroid glands at birth
- Damage to the parathyroid glands
Genetics conditions such as
Magnesium deficiency due to
alcoholism, and/or malnutrition
- Other causes, such as metal overload from iron, magnesium, or aluminium
In some cases, a cause cannot be found.
Factors that increase your chances of hypoparathyroidism include:
- Multiple autoimmune disorders
- Thyroid or parathyroid surgery
- Family history of hypoparathyroidism
Many patients with hypoparathyroidism will have not symptoms. If symptoms do develop, they may include:
- Muscle cramps
- Difficulty with walking
- Tingling around the mouth, fingers, and toes
- Excessive nervousness
- Loss of memory
- Mood swings
Blurred vision due to
- Thin, brittle nails
- Dry and scaly skin
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your doctor may need to test your body fluids. This can be done with:
Your doctor may need pictures of your body structures. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Calcium and vitamin D will usually be taken indefinitely. They are often taken by mouth.
Calcium may be given by injection. This is done when immediate symptom relief is needed.
There are no current guidelines to prevent hypoparathyroidism.
Definition of hypoparathyroidism and related disorders. The Hypoparathyroidism Association website. Available at:
. Accessed June 4, 2013.
Hypoparathyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated March 7, 2012. Accessed June 4, 2013.
Hypoparathyroidism. National Organization for Rare Disorders website. Available at:
. Updated July 7, 2011. Accessed June 4, 2013.
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Moffett JM, Suliburk J. Parathyroid autotransplantation.
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Testini M, Gurrado A, et al. Hypoparathyroidism after total
Minerva Chir. 2007 Oct;62(5):409-415.
Thakker RV. Genetic developments in hypoparathyroidism.
Winer KK, Ko CW, et al. Long-term treatment of hypoparathyroidism: a randomized controlled study comparing parathyroid hormone (1-34) versus calcitriol and calcium.
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Last reviewed June 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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