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
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 DiGeorge syndrome
- 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
Hypoparathyroidism does not always cause symptoms. If symptoms do develop, they may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
- Blood tests
- Urine test
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
There are no current guidelines to prevent hypoparathyroidism.
Hypoparathyroidism Association, Inc.
National Organization for Rare Disorders
Canadian Society of Endocrinology & Metabolism
Definition of hypoparathyroidism and related disorders. The Hypoparathyroidism Association website. Available at: https://www.hypopara.org/about-hpth/definition.html. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Hypoparathyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 2, 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Hypoparathyroidism. National Organization for Rare Disorders website. Available at: http://www.rarediseases.org/rare-disease-information/rare-diseases/byID/703/viewFullReport. Updated April 2, 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
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Moffett JM, Suliburk J. Parathyroid autotransplantation. Endocr Pract. 2011 Mar-Apr;17 Suppl 1:83-89.
Testini M, Gurrado A, et al. Hypoparathyroidism after total thyroidectomy. Minerva Chir. 2007 Oct;62(5):409-415.
Thakker RV. Genetic developments in hypoparathyroidism. Lancet. 2001;357:974.
Winer KK, Ko CW, et al. Long-term treatment of hypoparathyroidism: a randomized controlled study comparing parathyroid hormone (1-34) versus calcitriol and calcium. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003;88:4214-4220.
Last reviewed August 2014 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.