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A look at hypoparathyroidism

Parathyroid hormone

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.

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.

Image shows placement of parathyroid glands behind the thyroid.

  • Parathyroid glands are located behind the thyroid gland in the neck
  • Each gland is small, about 3 to 5 millimeters in diameter

How did I get hypoparathyroidism?

Hypoparathyroidism is a rare disorder that mainly occurs when the parathyroid glands are damaged either due to surgery, an autoimmune disease, or a genetic 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 certain organs in the body. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms. Your doctor will take blood tests to ensure your calcium levels are within a target range.

Since hypoparathyroidism can be caused by accidental damage to the parathyroid glands or their blood supply during removal of the thyroid, it is usually detected after surgery of the thyroid or parathyroid glands. Some patients may continue to have low levels of PTH and blood calcium 6 months after surgery and beyond. This is called chronic hypoparathyroidism.

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