What You Need to Know About Hypoparathyroidism

Hypoparathyroidism is also known as hypocelcemia. Today, we'll tell you everything you need to know about hypoparathyroidism, including its prevention and possible complications.
What You Need to Know About Hypoparathyroidism

Last update: 24 June, 2020

In today’s article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about hypoparathyroidism, an endocrine disorder that produces an imbalance in the thyroid glands. This disorder causes the thyroid glands to produce very little PTH (parathyroid hormone).

As a result, calcium levels decrease while, at the same time, phosphorous levels increase above normal. While hypothyroidism may appear as an isolated pathology, on occasion, it may be associated with another type of illness.

Unlike other types of thyroid disorders, which are relatively common, hypoparathyroidism is considered rare.

However, despite the fact that it doesn’t occur with the same frequency as other thyroid disorders, the seriousness of the complications that may arise after diagnosing hypoparathyroidism makes tackling this condition essential, given its importance.

What you need to know about hypoparathyroidism: the causes

The article Pillars for adequately approaching and treating patients with hypoparathyroidism points out some of the causes of this endocrine disorder. In 75% of cases, the condition appears after surgical intervention. This is the most common cause, but there are others:

  • Autoimmune. Parathyroidism can occur as a result of the application of immunotherapy in order to treat some sort of illness – for example, cancer.
  • Functional. An elevated or insufficient level of magnesium in the blood can also lead to hypoparathyroidism.
  • Destruction from radiation. As a consequence of the treatment of hypothyroidism, which consists of using radioactive iodine.
  • Metastasis. The reproduction of cancerous cells, specifically from breast cancer.
Metastesis can lead to hypoparathyroidism.

Besides these causes, there are others that can involve different syndromes (DiGeorge syndrome, HDR syndrome, etc) or disorders (mitochondrial unknown gene).

And we can’t forget about those circumstances in which hypoparathyroidism appears in isolated cases. For example, in PTH or CasR mutations, among others.

What you need to know about hypoparathyroidism: possible complications

Now that we’ve taken a look at what can lead to a hypoparathyroidism diagnosis, it’s time to talk about the complications which may arise.

Among these, we can start with those that are less serious. For example, the presence of very dry skin that becomes scaly, cramping of the muscles, and a tingling sensation in the extremities.

On other occasions, patients may experience menstruations that are more painful than usual. At the same time, they may have brittle fingernails, dry and brittle hair, and frequent abdominal pain. However, these symptoms can worsen to the point where the following complications occur:

  • Convulsions
  • Cataracts
  • Calcium deposits in tissue
  • A decreased state of consciousness

In some cases, hypoparathyroidism can lead to dementia. We can observe such as a case in the article Idiopathic hypoparathyroidism and dementia,

However, according to different studies and tests, treatment with vitamin D may help revert the condition. However, this is only if hypocalcemia hasn’t occurred, meaning it’s important to diagnose hypoparathyroidism as soon as possible.

What you need to know about hypoparathyroidism: prevention

A woman at an appointment with an endocrinologist.

Currently, there is nothing that allows us to impede or reduce the chances of developing this pathology. However, we can put into practice certain measures that can help us deal with this problem so that it goes away as soon as possible.

For example, if you have just had thyroid surgery or surgery on your neck, pay attention to possible symptoms of hypoparathyroidism. If you experience tingling in your hands or feet or any of the other mild symptoms we mentioned, then you need to let your doctor know. Then, you can begin treatment quickly to keep hypoparathyroidism from progressing and becoming more serious.

It’s important not to ignore or underestimate symptoms simply because they seem mild. Something we need to remember about hypoparathyroidism is that complications appear gradually. And, if we don’t treat them, they’ll continue to become more and more serious.

Be aware

So, if you’ve had recent neck or thyroid surgery, as we said, be aware. If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.

It’s important to act quickly so that doctors can make a proper diagnosis that either confirms or rules out hypoparathyroidism. Why? Because once it begins to affect us, it can cause cataracts in our eyes as well as the formation of calcium deposits in our tissue. This includes brain tissue, which leads to convulsions and fainting, and is very difficult to revert.

Therefore, the best way to prevent the complications that can develop from hypothyroidism is to treat the condition early on. Do you know anyone that’s been diagnosed with this condition?

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