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 aluminum
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:
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:
- Blood tests
- Urine test
Your doctor may need pictures of your body structures. This can be done with:
- CT scan
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation
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.
Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.