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Hypoparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid glands are not secreting enough PTH (parathyroid hormone).

The four parathyroid glands are located in the lower part of the neck, usually behind the thyroid gland. Along with vitamin D, PTH regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your blood and bones. If there is not enough PTH, you will have too little calcium and too much phosphorous. This may cause problems with your bones, muscles, nerve endings and skin.

Hypoparathyroidism is most often caused by injury to the parathyroid glands during head and neck surgery. It can also be present at birth (congenital) or may be part of an autoimmune disorder affecting  the glands in the body.

Hypoparathyroidism symptoms

Call your primary care physician if you notice any of the following symptoms of hypoparathyroidism:

  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Tingling in the toes, fingers and lips
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cataracts
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle spasms called tetany, which can affect breathing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Seizures
  • Teeth that don’t grow in on time or at all (in children born with hypothyroidism)
  • Constipation

Seizures during infancy or childhood are sometimes the first sign of congenital hypoparathyroidism.

How can I get help for hypoparathyroidism?

Your primary care physician will order blood tests, which may lead to a diagnosis of hypoparathyroidism. Your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist who specializes in treating this rare condition.

Care for hypoparathyroidism at Rush

The treatment goal for hypoparathyroidism is to return the levels of calcium and phosphorus in your blood and urine to normal levels. This can be challenging, and may involve one or more of the following:

  • Calcium carbonate, vitamin D, calcitriol and magnesium supplements
  • Dietary changes, such as eating more foods high in calcium: dairy products, calcium-fortified products and green leafy vegetables
  • Injection of synthetic PTH, which can help with low calcium

Why choose Rush for hypoparathyroidism care

  • Nationally recognized experts: The endocrinology team at Rush includes nationally recognized experts in the care of thyroid and parathyroid conditions.
  • Pediatric specialists: Pediatric endocrinologists at Rush have expertise in treating congenital hypoparathyroidism in children.
  • Patient-centered care: Treating hypoparathyroidism requires highly personalized care and continuous monitoring. Doctors at Rush will work with you over the long-term to keep your hypoparathyroidism under control.

Departments and programs that treat this condition