What is hypoparathyroidism?

Hypoparathyroidism is when the body does not make or respond to a hormone called PTH.

PTH, or parathyroid hormone, helps your body control the levels of calcium and vitamin D in your blood. This hormone is made by the parathyroid glands in the neck.

There are many reasons for hypoparathyroidism. If you have this condition, you can have decreased amounts of calcium in the blood. This can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including life-threatening seizures or heart problems. Some people don't have any symptoms.
Hypoparathyroidism is a rare condition in which the four tiny parathyroid glands located in your neck do not produce sufficient amounts of parathyroid hormone (PTH). This hormone works in concert with vitamin D and another hormone, calcitonin (produced by the thyroid gland) to help control levels of calcium and phosphorus in your blood and bones. If you have hypoparathyroidism, your levels of calcium are too low and your levels of phosphorus are too high.

Symptoms of hypoparathyroidism (most of which are due to too low levels of calcium) are wide-ranging and may include:
  • hair loss or dry hair
  • brittle nails
  • dry and/or scaly skin
  • cataracts
  • muscle cramps and/or spasms
  • pain in the face, legs and feet
  • painful menstruation (in women)
  • seizures
  • tingling in lips, fingers and toes
  • poor tooth development and/or weakened tooth enamel and tooth decay (in children)
  • headaches
  • vomiting
  • stunted growth and slow mental development (in children)
  • mood swings
  • hoarseness or voice changes
  • wheezing or other difficulty breathing
The most common cause of hypoparathyroidism is damage to the parathyroid glands during surgery. Other medical treatments (radiation to the thyroid gland or some medications) may also cause the condition. In rare cases, hypoparathryoidism is caused by a genetic condition and infants are born with underdeveloped or no parathyroid glands. Certain underlying conditions (some cancers, neck trauma, Addison disease, Wilson’s disease or abnormal levels of iron or magnesium in the body) may also cause hypoparathyroidism.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.