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Hypoparathyroidism

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What Is Hypoparathyroidism?

This condition happens when glands in your neck -- called the parathyroid glands -- don't make enough parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH controls the amount of two important minerals, calcium and phosphorus, in your blood. You may have hypoparathyroidism because you’re missing these glands entirely, or because you have another medical condition that affects how much PTH is in your body.

Your body uses calcium to keep your nerves, muscles, and heart working. Without enough PTH, the calcium levels in your blood drop. You can then have many different health problems, like muscle spasms, tingling, heart problems, and seizures. The good news is, you can control the condition and keep yourself or your child healthy.

Treatment mostly means making sure the body has enough calcium, which you can do by eating a balanced diet and taking vitamins. If you stick with your treatment plan and see your doctor regularly, you can lead a full, active life with hypoparathyroidism.

Causes

Your body has four parathyroid glands. They’re pea-sized, and they sit on another gland, the thyroid. Several things can trigger your parathyroid glands to stop making enough PTH. They include:

  • Injury or removal during surgery
  • Low levels of magnesium, a mineral you get through your diet
  • A condition that makes your immune system attack your own cells, called an autoimmune disease
  • Radiation therapy, especially to your neck or head

A baby can also be born with hypoparathyroidism. She may get it because she got certain broken genes from her parents or because of a problem in the womb. Sometimes, doctors can’t find a cause.

Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of hypoparathyroidism are:

Severe hypoparathyroidism can cause seizures, low blood pressure (or hypotension), and heart failure.

Children who have the disease may get a lot of cavities or have other problems with their teeth. The condition can also affect their physical growth and mental development. Careful treatment can help prevent these problems.

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