In contrast to hyperparathyroidism (hyperfunction of the parathyroids), hypoparathyroidism does not have consequences for bone.
Diagnosis is by measurement of calcium, serum albumin (for correction) and PTH in blood. PTH degrades rapidly at ambient temperatures and the blood sample therefore has to be transported to the laboratory on ice.
If necessary, measuring cAMP (cyclic AMP) in the urine after an intravenous dose of PTH can help in the distinction between hypoparathyroidism and other causes.
Hemochromatosis can lead to iron accumulation and consequent dysfunction of a number of endocrine organs, including the parathyroids.
Absence or dysfunction of the parathyroid glands is one of the components of chromosome 22q11 microdeletion syndrome (other names: DiGeorge syndrome, Schprintzen syndrome, velocardiofacial syndrome).
DiGeorge syndrome, a childhood disease in which hypoparathyroidism occurs due to a total absence of the parathyroid glands at birth. Familial hypoparathyroidism occurs with other endocrine diseases, such as adrenal insufficiency, in a syndrome called type I polyglandular autoimmune syndrome (PGA I).
Severe hypocalcemia, a potentially life-threatening condition, is treated as soon as possible with intravenouscalcium (e.g. as calcium gluconate). Generally, a central venous catheter is recommended, as the calcium can irritate peripheral veins and cause phlebitis.
Long-term treatment of hypoparathyroidism is with calcium and Vitamin D3 supplementation (D1 is ineffective in the absence of renal conversion). Teriparatide, a synthetic form of PTH (presently registered for osteoporosis) might become the treatment of choice for PTH supplementation, although further studies are awaited.
In the event of a life-threatening attack of low calcium levels or tetany (prolonged muscle contractions), calcium is administered by intravenous (IV) infusion. Precautions are taken to prevent seizures or larynx spasms. The heart is monitored for abnormal rhythms until the person is stable. When the life-threatening attack has been controlled, treatment continues with medicine taken by mouth.
Tetany can lead to a blocked airway, requiring a tracheostomy.
Stunted growth, malformed teeth, and slow mental development can occur if hypoparathyroidism develops in childhood.