What Are Signs & Symptoms of Hypoparathyroidism?
Most symptoms occur due to hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium levels, since without PTH, the blood calcium levels get low.
- Tetany: numbness around the mouth, or hands and feet, muscle cramping (especially hands and feet)
- Trouble breathing (laryngospasm or bronchospasm)
- Prolonged QT interval on ECG, arrhythmias
- Basal ganglia calcifications (calcium in brain)
- Calcium deposits outside of bone
- Dental problems
How Is Hypoparathyroidism Diagnosed?
Hypoparathyroidism is diagnosed when the blood calcium level is low and the PTH level is also low or is inappropriately normal (it should be high with a low calcium level). Also, clues can be obtained by examining your history of any genetic syndrome, surgeries, medications, etc. and symptoms of hypocalcemia as described above.
How Is Hypoparathyroidism Treated?
In children, hypoparathyroidism is most often treated with calcium and active vitamin D. Depending on the degree of hypocalcemia, this may need to be done in the hospital with intravenous (IV) medications, or can be done with oral medications.
In adults, replacement PTH is available, but this is not yet approved for use in children.
Sometimes additional medications are needed, such as magnesium supplementation or other medications to help decrease phosphorus levels, which are elevated with hypoparathyroidism.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Hypoparathyroidism?
In some cases, hypoparathyroidism resolves on its own (it is transient, or temporary). This most often happens in infancy, or after some neck surgeries.
In cases where hypoparathyroidism is permanent, lifelong medication is needed. The most common long-term effects include hypo- and hyper-calcemia due to the body’s changing needs over time.
The goals of treatment are keeping the calcium levels in the low normal range, without symptoms of hypocalcemia. Higher levels of calcium often lead to more calcium in the urine and kidney stones (nephrolithiasis) or calcium deposits in the kidneys (nephrocalcinosis).
Many people with hypoparathyroidism report mood changes such as depression and anxiety chronically.
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