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What can you tell me about hypoparathyroidism?



Your parathyroid glands are located in your neck behind your thyroid gland. These glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH), which helps maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in your body. Hypoparathyroidism is a deficiency of PTH. This results in abnormally low blood levels of calcium (hypocalcemia) and abnormally high blood levels of phosphorus.

Causes of hypoparathyroidism include:

  • Injury to or removal of the parathyroid glands during neck surgery
  • Certain autoimmune endocrine diseases, such as hypothyroidism and adrenal failure (Addison's disease)
  • Congenital (present at birth) abnormalities in the production of or response to parathyroid hormone

Also, you are at increased risk of hypoparathyroidism if you have a family history of the disease. A doctor can confirm a diagnosis of hypoparathyroidism by blood tests. Treatment is directed at restoring the calcium balance in the body, which may include:

  • Calcium carbonate and vitamin D supplements
  • A diet high in calcium and low in phosphorus

In addition, researchers are testing a genetically engineered (recombinant) form of PTH as a treatment for hypoparathyroidism.

Last Updated: 01/04/2006
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