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HypoPara Life Impacts Assessment

Understanding Your Disease

Woman with HypoPara sharing information with her partner Woman with HypoPara sharing information with her partner

Parathyroid Hormone Plays a Critical Role in Many Functions of the Body

What is hypoparathyroidism?

Hypoparathyroidism is characterized by absent or low parathyroid hormone (PTH) in the body. The 4 parathyroid glands are located behind the thyroid gland in the neck. When the parathyroid glands are damaged or removed, this may cause a decrease in PTH.

This disease may result from:

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Neck surgery
(most common)

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Genetic causes

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Other secondary or unknown causes

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You can use this helpful phrase to remind your friends and family of the proper name of your disease:

“The O in 'low' means HypO.”

What Is the Role of PTH?

The parathyroid glands play a role in tightly controlling calcium levels in the blood through the release of PTH. People with HypoPara may have reduced quality of life, which may be related in part to missing PTH.

How PTH acts to maintain calcium levels in the normal range

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PTH helps maintain the balance of calcium in the blood and bones.

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PTH signals the kidneys to keep calcium in your body and helps them convert vitamin D into the active form that works in the body.

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Active vitamin D acts on the intestines, where it helps with the absorption of calcium.

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PTH receptors are present in the brain. PTH may have an effect on cognitive function.


When PTH is missing, the body is not able to function normally.

Missing PTH Can Affect Many Different Areas of the Body

The effects of hypoparathyroidism

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  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trouble thinking (brain fog)
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  • Cataracts
  • Optic nerve swelling
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  • Abnormal tooth development
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  • Vocal cord spasms (laryngospasm)
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  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart disease from low calcium
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Nervous system
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Tingling in arms and legs
  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Pain
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  • Calcium deposits in kidneys*
  • Kidney stones*
  • Chronic kidney disease*
*These effects are primarily due to treatment with active vitamin D and calcium rather than the results of hypoparathyroidism.
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  • Dry skin
  • Thinning hair
  • Brittle nails
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  • Abnormal bone structure (such as increased bone mineral density)
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  • Muscle weakness

Adapted by permission from Springer Nature. Nature Reviews Disease Primers. 2017;3:17055. Hypoparathyroidism. Mannstadt M, et al. 2017.

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“I have trouble recalling things and cannot perform simple tasks.”

— Person living with hypoparathyroidism.

Hypoparathyroidism Is a Rare Endocrine Disease

Most commonly occurs after neck surgery (such as a total thyroidectomy)

About 77,000 to 115,000*people in the US have hypoparathyroidism

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*Based on estimates from a study of US healthcare claims from 2007 to 2008 that looked at the number of diagnoses related to hypoparathyroidism, along with the 2009 population-based Rochester Epidemiology Project that identified hypoparathyroidism diagnoses from medical records since 1945.

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HypoPara = hypoparathyroidism; PTH = parathyroid hormone.