What is hypoparathyroidism?
Hypoparathyroidism is a condition that is characterized by a low level of parathyroid hormone (PTH), which is necessary for balancing calcium and phosphorus in the body. Without this hormone there is a low level of calcium in the bones and blood, and an increased level of phosphorus in the blood.
What are the symptoms of hypoparathyroidism?
Symptoms of this condition include:
- Tingling and burning in the fingertips, toes, and lips
- Muscle aches and cramps in the legs, feet, abdomen, and face
- Twitching and spasms of the muscles around the mouth, hands, arms, and throat
- Painful menstruation
- Patchy hair loss
- Dry, coarse skin
- Brittle nails
- Depression and anxiety
Complications can also arise from this condition. Tetany, paresthesias, a loss of consciousness due to convulsions, malformed teeth, impaired kidney function, and issues with the heart like arrhythmias, fainting, and failure are all possible complications. With proper treatment, they can all be reversed. There are also irreversible complications that are possible results of hypoparathyroidism. These are short stature, slow mental development in children, cataracts, and calcium deposits in the brain.
What causes hypoparathyroidism?
This condition occurs when the four parathyroid glands do not secrete enough PTH. There are a multitude of reasons that this may happen. Post-surgical hypoparathyroidism, autoimmune disease, hereditary hypoparathyroidism, extensive cancer treatment around the face or neck, and low levels of magnesium in the blood can all lead to a lack of PTH.
There are also risk factors that heighten the chance of having hypoparathyroidism. These are recent neck surgery, a family history of this condition, and having certain endocrine or autoimmune conditions.
How is hypoparathyroidism diagnosed?
Medical professionals will conduct a physical exam and study family and medical history. A blood test is the best way to diagnose this condition. If a low calcium level, a low PTH level, a high level of phosphorus, or a low level of magnesium are present in the blood, it indicates that one may have hypoparathyroidism.
What are the treatments for hypoparathyroidism?
Treatment is meant to both regulate the levels of calcium and phosphorus and manage symptoms. Oral calcium carbonate tablets, vitamin D, and PTH (Natpara) are all possible treatment options. Diets that are rich in calcium and low in phosphorus are also ways to help manage this condition. If there is a severe lack of calcium, an IV might be needed. Monitoring is another way to ensure that levels of calcium and phosphorus do not become too extreme.