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Hypoparathyroidism

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 a 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.

Treatment for hypoparathyroidism

Specific treatment for hypoparathyroidism will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

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.

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