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This site is intended for a U.S. audience.

The contents of this site are not intended for the purpose of disease diagnosis or as a substitute for information that is provided to you by your physician. You should always discuss your medical condition and any questions you have with your doctor.

Hypopara­thyroidism

Most people have 4 parathyroid glands located behind the thyroid gland in the neck. The glands release parathyroid hormone (PTH), which controls the levels of calcium and vitamin D in the blood. Hypoparathyroidism is a rare disorder that occurs when the parathyroid glands are damaged either due to surgery or a disorder and are not able to produce enough PTH. In some patients, doctors are not able to tell the cause of the disorder. Not having enough PTH can interfere with important functions of the intestines, kidneys, and bones.

PTH works along with the intestines, kidneys, and bones to:

  • Activate vitamin D to help the body get calcium from food
  • Increase the amount of calcium the kidneys reabsorb
  • Release calcium from the bones into the bloodstream

What causes hypoparathyroidism?

Hypoparathyroidism occurs when your parathyroid glands either slow or stop PTH production. This can happen for several reasons:

Surgery

This is the most common cause of acquired hypoparathyroidism. People who have surgery to treat diseases or conditions near the parathyroid glands are at risk for accidental damage or removal during the procedure.

Autoimmune disease

This is the second most common form of hypoparathyroidism in adults. In this condition, the immune system creates antibodies in an attempt to reject parathyroid tissues as if they are foreign bodies.

Hereditary

Also known as familial hypoparathyroidism, this occurs when the parathyroid glands are either not present or don’t work properly at birth.

Idiopathic

This is the term doctors use when the cause is not known.

Image showing location of thyroid gland

Thyroid gland (back view)

Image of parathyroid glands

Parathyroid Glands

About hypoparathyroidism

Talk to your doctor about low blood calcium due to hypoparathyroidism.

How is hypoparathyroidism diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you may have hypoparathyroidism, he or she will ask for your medical history, including your symptoms, past neck surgery and family history. Your doctor will also conduct a physical exam to check for symptoms, like facial twitching. Your doctor will also conduct lab tests to evaluate your PTH and calcium levels.

Where can I find support?

Connecting with the rare disease community can give you a way to learn and meet other people who can relate to your personal experience.

Shire provides funding to some of the below organizations in support of efforts that include, but are not limited to: research, education, meetings/events and support.

HypoPARAthyroidism Association

A non-profit patient organization working to educate and support those touched by hypoparathyroidism, through online resources and conferences/workshops.

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc.

Founded in 1995, is an international nonprofit organization, guided by a medical advisory council of thyroid cancer specialists, offering free support services, educational information and events to thyroid cancer survivors, families, and health care professionals worldwide.

Light of Life Foundation

This organization works to improve the quality of life of thyroid cancer patients through education and research.

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

Offers information about clinical trials and organizes events that support patients and families affected by hypoparathyroidism.

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Krissy,
OnePath Patient Support Manager

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