Hypoparathyroidism Symptoms & Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
The parathyroid glands are four tiny rice-sized glands located in your neck whose primary job is to maintain your blood-calcium levels. Normally, when blood-calcium levels drop, the parathyroid glands secrete more parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH signals a release of calcium from your bones into your small intestine then your bloodstream. When blood-calcium levels are high, less PTH is secreted, and calcium levels stabilize. However, when there is a PTH deficiency, the process fails to stabilize calcium levels.
Hypoparathyroidism results from a parathyroid hormone (PTH) deficiency that leads to decreased calcium and increased phosphorus levels in the blood. There are two types of hypoparathyroidism:
- True hypoparathyroidism occurs when one or more of the four parathyroid glands in your neck is not properly functioning, and there is deficient PTH secretion.
- The other type, sometimes known as pseudo-hypoparathyroidism—because the problem is not actually with the parathyroid glands—occurs when adequate PTH is secreted, but the kidneys and bones cannot properly respond to the available PTH.
While the condition is rare, hypoparathyroidism symptoms can be resolved with proper supplementation. To meet with a healthcare provider in Santa Monica who can identify the source of your symptoms call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
What Causes Hypoparathyroidism?
The stage for hypoparathyroidism can be set in the womb if the mother suffers from hyperparathyroidism —where her parathyroid glands are malfunctioning and creating too much PTH. Maternal hyperparathyroidism can result in the opposite condition, hypoparathyroidism, in the developing fetus, where it develops as a congenital birth defect.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism, however, is when one or more of the parathyroid glands is damaged during surgery. The four parathyroid glands are located in the neck behind the larger thyroid gland and they share the same blood supply. During surgery to remove the larger thyroid gland, sometimes parathyroid gland tissue is damaged or removed accidentally by an inexperienced thyroid surgeon. It can also occur when the patient has hyperparathyroidism and is having surgery to intentionally remove an overactive, malfunctioning parathyroid gland.
In other cases, hypoparathyroidism can develop as part of an autoimmune disorder, or even for unknown reasons. Many of the causes of hypoparathyroidism, however, are completely avoidable. Proper management of hyperparathyroidism in pregnant mothers is essential. Choosing an experienced thyroid surgeon, too, can help to avoid unintentional damage to the parathyroid glands during thyroid surgery. Treating a possible underlying autoimmune disorder may also be in order.
Symptoms of hypoparathyroidism often range in severity and include:
- Tingling or burning in the appendages like the fingertips and toes or around the mouth
- Tetany, which involves a range of muscle twitching, spasms or even severe muscle cramping, especially in the mouth or throat area, but also in the hands or arms and legs or feet
- Mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability or other cognitive issues like memory loss, confusion and disorientation
- Fatigue or generalized weakness
- Dry skin and dry, brittle nails
- Headaches and muscle aches
- Menstrual issues like painful menstruation
- Hair loss, usually in patches, including eyebrows and other body hair
In extremely rare cases, seizures and difficulty breathing mark severe hypoparathyroidism complications. Long-term untreated hypoparathyroidism can cause calcification in the body and its organs, leading to kidney stones and kidney damage, heart arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, cataracts and other vision changes. Children with untreated hypoparathyroidism may experience dental complications, as well as stunted growth and slow mental development.
For a proper diagnosis of hypoparathyroidism, your healthcare provider will conduct a blood test to measure your blood-calcium levels. High levels of phosphorus and low PTH in the blood would confirm the diagnosis. Other tests may be recommended to rule out other causes, determine any complications and gauge the severity of the condition. These may include urine tests, imaging tests of the heart, kidneys or even your brain, and a bone mineral density test to measure the amount of calcium and other minerals present in your bones.
Hypoparathyroidism is a lifelong condition with no cure. Missing or damaged parathyroid glands cannot be replaced or repaired. Treatment, therefore, is designed to address the symptoms of the condition; namely, to replace the low blood calcium levels. A personalized regimen of calcium and vitamin D supplementation, under the supervision of an experienced, knowledgeable healthcare provider is generally the treatment of choice. With severe, long-term cases of hypoparathyroidism, certain associated health conditions may require treatment (e.g., medications for seizures, treatment for kidney stones, etc.)
For children who may have suffered from untreated hypoparathyroidism for some time, routine check-ups to monitor potential developmental issues are often recommended. As they age, children with hypoparathyroidism may require medication for seizures or any other conditions associated with untreated hypoparathyroidism. Providing speech, occupational and physical therapy may help maximize any stunted physical and mental development.
Request more information about hypoparathyroidism treatment today. Call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
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