There are four parathyroid glands, located near each of the two lobes of the thyroid gland. The parathyroids produce parathyroid hormones that regulate blood levels of calcium necessary for strong bones and teeth, nerve function, and blood clotting. Hypoparathyroidism is a rare disorder associated with insufficient production of parathyroid hormone, the inability to make a usable form of parathyroid hormone, or the inability of kidneys and bones to respond to parathyroid hormone production. A deficiency of parathyroid hormone lowers blood calcium levels and raises phosphate levels. Hypoparathyroidism either may be inherited or acquired; the acquired form usually results from parathyroid surgery or an underlying disorder, such as cancer or neck trauma.

Signs and Symptoms

Hypoparathyroidism is often accompanied by the following signs and symptoms: The following signs and symptoms often appear in children with hypoparathyroidism:

What Causes It?

Hypoparathyroidism results from a variety of causes, as listed below:

Who's Most At Risk?

People with the following conditions or characteristics are at risk for developing hypoparathyroidism:

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Your healthcare provider will conduct a physical examination, checking for muscle spasms, twitching, and seizures. He or she will examine the skin for problems such as dry skin, thinning hair, and fungal infections. In the case of infants, the provider will ask about and check for vomiting, swollen abdomen, apnea (temporary cessation of breathing), and an occasional bluish discoloration. Blood tests can reveal levels of low calcium, high phosphate, decreased magnesium, decreased parathyroid hormone, and other abnormalities. X rays or computed tomography (CT) scans may be used to check for abnormalities in the bones and soft tissues.

Treatment Options


No preventive measures are available for congenital hypoparathyroidism. However, changes in surgical techniques and medical treatment for thyroid and parathyroid disorders are helping to preserve parathyroid glands and reduce the occurrence of acquired hypoparathyroidism.

Treatment Plan

A lifelong regimen of dietary and/or supplemental calcium and vitamin D is usually required to restore calcium and mineral balance. In the acute phase of hypoparathyroidism, calcium will be administered intravenously; diuretics may be prescribed in that circumstance as well to prevent over excretion of calcium in the urine and to reduce the amount of calcium and vitamin D needed.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

As mentioned, calcium and vitamin D supplements are the main treatment for hypoparathyroidism. Dietary choices may help maintain the right balance of these and other nutrients as well.

The following supplements have been used clinically for the purposes indicated and, therefore, may be valuable adjuncts in the treatment of hypoparathyroidism: Foods rich in calcium include: Calcium and vitamin D are thought to be best absorbed in an acidic environment; lemon juice, for example, may be added to greens to facilitate calcium absorption. Other dietary recommendations made by some naturopaths to help maintain healthy calcium levels are as follows: Herbs
Herbs rich in minerals, such as the following, have been used in traditional remedies to support normal bone growth: Homeopathy
Homeopaths may use the following remedies to treat problems related to calcium levels: The use of these substances for hypoparathyroidism has not been examined in scientific studies.

Prognosis/Possible Complications

The prognosis for hypoparathyroidism is fair to good, especially when a diagnosis is made early. Several complications may occur, including acute muscle spasms leading to breathing problems; cataracts; muscle, ligament, and nervous system disorders; and stunted growth, tooth malformations, and mental retardation in childhood.

Following Up

Those who have hypoparathyroidism will require lifelong monitoring by a healthcare provider.


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