Hypoparathyroidism is a rare disorder in which the body secretes abnormally low levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH is essential in regulating and maintaining the body’s balance of the minerals calcium and phosphorus.

A low production of PTH in hypoparathyroidism can result in abnormally low ionized calcium levels in the blood and bones and an increase of serum phosphorus.

Typical treatment for hypoparathyroidism involves supplements to regulate the calcium and phosphorus levels. Treatment with supplements may be lifelong.



Symptoms of hypoparathyroidism may include:


  • Tingling or burning (paresthesias) in the fingertips, toes and lips
  • Muscle aches or cramps in the legs, feet, abdomen or face
  • Twitching or muscle spasms around the mouth, hands, arms and throat
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dry skin
  • Painful menstruation
  • Brittle nails
  • Patchy hair loss (thinning of eyebrows)
  • Depression, mood swings
  • Memory problems



In general, hypoparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid glands don’t produce sufficient parathyroid hormone. The insufficient level of PTH leads to abnormally low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) in the blood and bones and increased levels of serum phosphorus (hyperphosphatemia).


Possible causes of hypoparathyroidism may include:


  • Acquired hypoparathyroidism: acquired hypoparathyroidism develops after accidental damage to or surgical removal of the parathyroid glands. This is the most common cause of hypoparathyroidism.
  • Autoimmune disease: The immune system creates antibodies against parathyroid tissues leading to a parathyroid malfunction or failure to produce hormones.
  • Hereditary hypoparathyroidism: In this type of the disorder, the parathyroid glands are either not present at birth or they don’t function properly.
  • Extensive cancer radiation treatment of the face or neck: Radiation can damage and even destroy the parathyroid glands.
  • Low levels of magnesium in the blood: This can affect the function of the parathyroid glands because normal magnesium levels are required for optimum secretion of parathyroid hormone.


Risk factors

Risk factors for hypoparathyroidism may include:


  • Recent neck surgery, especially one involving the thyroid
  • Family history of hypoparathyroidism
  • Certain autoimmune or endocrine disorders (ex. Addison’s disease)




Reversible complications


  • Tetany: Painful and cramp-like spasms of the hands and fingers. It may also cause muscle discomfort and twitches of the muscles of the face, throat and arms. Spasms in the throat may interfere with breathing. 
  • Paresthesias: Sensory symptoms of tingling sensations or pins and needle feelings in the lips, tongue, fingers and feet.
  • Loss of consciousness with convulsions (grand mal seizures)
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Teeth malformations that affect dental enamel and roots
  • Hearth arrhythmias and fainting or even heart failure


Irreversible complications


  • Stunted growth (short stature)
  • Calcium deposits in the brain, which can lead to balance problems and seizures
  • Cataracts