The symptoms of hypoparathyroidism are caused by the low blood calcium levels that develop as a result of the disease. Hypoparathyroidism occurs when the absence of or damage to one or more of the four parathyroid glands leads to insufficient parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels in the body. The parathyroid glands normally produce and release PTH — which takes calcium from bone — to increase blood calcium levels when needed. If not enough PTH is produced, blood calcium levels will fall, causing hypocalcemia. Blood phosphorus levels will also rise, which is known as hyperphosphatemia.
Abnormal blood calcium and phosphorus levels can lead to the following hypoparathyroidism symptoms:
- A burning or tingling feeling (paresthesia) in the lips, toes, or fingertips
- Muscle twitching and spasms (tetany) that affect the mouth, throat, arms, and hands
- Brittle nails
- Patchy hair loss
- Fatigue or weakness
- Painful menstruation
- Dry skin
- Memory problems
- Depression or mood swings
If hypoparathyroidism remains untreated, complications may develop, which include impaired kidney function, fainting, loss of consciousness, and heart arrhythmias or heart failure.
Children born with hypoparathyroidism may develop irreversible complications if the disease goes undiagnosed. These complications include cataracts, the buildup of calcium deposits in the brain, delayed mental development, and stunted growth. Children may also experience malformation of their teeth, but this is reversible.
The TGH Thyroid Cancer & Parathyroid Institute offers treatment to help alleviate the symptoms of hypoparathyroidism, and TGH has been recognized for its patient care, earning a ranking from U.S. News & World Report as one of America's Best Hospitals for Diabetes & Endocrinology.