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Rare Disease Day 2015

Symptoms of Hypoparathyroidism

If you have hypoparathyroidism (hypoPARA), either you don’t have parathyroid glands or your parathyroid glands are not producing enough (or any) parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH is essential for maintaining the delicate balance of calcium and phosphorus levels in your blood, so people with hypoparathyroidism are at risk for hypocalcemia (low calcium). Lack of calcium in your blood causes a complex pattern of symptoms in many organ systems, including the bones, heart, skin, kidneys, eyes, brain and nerves.1,3,7

Because of ‘brain fog,’ caused by my hypoparathyroidism, I could no longer comprehend large volumes of information … At one point, my cognitive function had dropped so low that I no longer knew how to walk the two blocks to my wife’s office at the end of my working day … Today I am closely monitored by my physician.searching for hypoparathyroidism support


Symptoms can be either a result of hypoparathyroidism or the result of taking calcium and active vitamin D to manage the disorder. Because symptoms are tied to the calcium and phosphorus levels in your blood, they may fluctuate (appear, become more intense, subside or disappear), sometimes within short time periods as the levels in your blood go up or down.

  • Neuromuscular symptoms1,3,7
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Muscle cramps in the hands (may present a claw-like appearance) and feet (may present a perching-like appearance). This kind of muscle cramping is also known as tetany.
  • Muscle spasms that can affect breathing (bronchospasms) and speech (laryngospasm). These muscle spasms are also a form of tetany.
  • Muscular weakness and pain
  • Tingling or burning sensations (paresthesias) in fingers, toes and around the mouth
  • Muscle twitching
  • Neurologic symptoms1,3,7
  • Anxiety
  • "Brain fog" (cognitive impairment characteristic of hypoparathyroidism)
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Seizures
  • Dermatologic symptoms7
  • Brittle fingernails
  • Defects of tooth enamel
  • Dry, rough skin
  • Hair loss
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Other symptoms1,3,7
  • Bone pain
  • Bone changes
  • Hypermineralized bone
  • Cardiac abnormalities
  • Cataracts
  • Depression
  • Hearing loss
  • Kidney stones
  • Soft tissue calcification

Management of hypoparathyroidism often involves taking large doses of calcium and active vitamin D, which must be carefully monitored to help control symptoms. Many doctors recommend calcium levels that are just below the normal range. This is to control the symptoms while trying to avoid or minimize the long-term complications, including kidney problems, soft tissue calcification, cataracts and heart problems.1,3

Your doctor will determine the right regimen. You can help by tracking your dietary intake of calcium, keeping your intake of phosphorus to a minimum, making sure you take the right pills on the right schedule, and noting and reporting any symptoms that occur.

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Learning about hypoparathyroidism can help you manage it. Find out how this disorder affects your body and different organ systems.

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Hypoparathyroidism symptoms diagram

Calcium levels diagram