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Hypoparathyroidism is an endocrine disorder, which is caused by parathyroid glands underproduction and further results in parathyroid hormone (PTH) insufficiency. This condition leads to low calcium and high phosphorus levels in organism, which is unwanted especially for human skeleton. This type of disease is seen very rare and affects males and females equally. One of the most common causes are either recent parathyroid or thyroid glands surgery or immune system disorders. Symptoms and signs characteristic for hypoparathyroidism are associated with hypocalcemia, and may include e.g. paresthesia, fatigue, muscle cramps, insomnia, headache and abdominal pain. The disease can be controlled with ease, however, regular examinations are needed in order to check the disease progress.
This condition appear as a result of parathyroid hormone (PTH) deficiency. PTH is produced in parathyroid glands, a four small organs attached to the thyroid, and is primarily responsible for maintaining proper amounts of calcium and phosphorus and vitamin D synthesis. Its deficiency is very harmful for human skeleton and might lead to cardiovascular disorders or seizures. Hypoparathyroidism is a very rare condition and affects males and females almost equally. Currently, the prevention methods are unknown. What is interesting, the disease is most commonly caused by accidental injury during parathyroid or thyroid glands surgery.
Opposite condition, characterized by parathyroid glands overproduction, is called as hyperparathyroidism.
Hypoparathyroidism causes and symptoms
The most frequent cause of this endocrine disorder is accidental injury during surgery of parathyroid, thyroid or other surrounding tissues in neck. Although hypoparathyroidism with such origin is usually temporary, it may also be long term or even permanent. Fortunately, thanks to modern medicine, surgeons are able to avoid those incidents more frequently. Hyperparathyroidism may also appear as a result of genetic background, immune system disorders, magnesium deficiency, radiation therapy or iron overlord.
Symptoms and signs of parathyroid underproduction are associated with hypocalcemia, and the most common ones include:
- Muscle cramps
- Abdominal pain
Diagnosis and treatment
When the hypoparathyroidsm is being suspected, healthcare providers will check patient?s history, especially taking notice on recent thyroid or parathyroid glands surgery. Apart from physical examination, which reveals visible signs, diagnosis usually consist blood tests. They are performed in order to measure parathyroid hormone, calcium and phosphorus levels. Other possible examinations include urinalysis, electrocardiography and brain imaging (usually with MRI).
Treatment task is to restore proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D, in order to control symptoms and signs. Those nutrients can be administrated in form of pills or through the diet. The therapy is usually long-term, or even lifelong, since hypoparathyroidism is a chronic ailment. Unfortunately, synthetic parathyroid hormone or it?s substitute, which could be used as a hormone replacement therapy, is not widely available.
During early stages of treatment, calcium levels will be measured weekly or monthly to adjust proper dosages. When the disease become stable, routine examinations will be performed once or twice a year.