Hypoparathyroidism – Low Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) and Hypocalcemia

Q: Good morning, I had a thyroidectomy. During the operation, the surgeon removed one of my calcium glands. Before the operation my calcium count was low, and since the operation it is even lower. After my operation I was put on a 1200 mg of calcium supplements a days- that was over two years ago. I am now on 3000 mg a day, and I am due for another test in next few weeks. After each test my calcium supplement is increased. My main concern due to low calcium is the threat of osteoporosis exasperation. Any help or advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you.
– By Mrs Evans

Reply:

Parathyroid glands, that are 4 in number, normally have a size of a grain of rice. They secrete a hormone called Parathyroid hormone (PTH) or parathormone which regulates the amount of calcium in our body.

What Does PTH Do ?

Parathormone controls how much calcium is to be absorbed from our diet, how much is to stay in our bones, and how much calcium is to be in our blood.

Low Parathormone

This is confirmed by lower than normal values on intact PTH test. Lack of parathormone leads to decreased blood levels of calcium (hypocalcemia) and increased levels of blood phosphorus (hyperphosphatemia). There are no symptoms of too little parathyroid hormone other than the symptoms due to too low blood calcium.

Symptoms of Hypoparathyroidism

These are due to hypocalcemia:

  • Mild tingling in the hands, fingers, and around the mouth
  • Any form of muscle cramps
  • Mild seizure like activity in the brain
  • Weakening of bones

This will make you remember that calcium has several main functions in our bodies including:
1) Providing electrical energy for all of our nervous system.
2) Providing the electrical energy for muscle contraction.
3) Providing strength to our bones.

Treatment of Low Para thyroid Hormone Level

Vitamin D and calcium supplements are the primary treatments. Calcium supplements are never given alone. Vitamin D has to be taken along, for it to be absorbed.

These supplements do increase the blood calcium levels, but as you can understand,  para thyroid hormone was doing much more work. It was regulating the whole calcium metabolism. So, it would be better to take hormonal supplements. Artificially engineered PTH hormone is available in the market by the name Forteo (teriparatide). This supplement can be tried for better results.

If the levels of calcium are alright, you need not worry about osteoporosis. Such types of osteoporosis are even reversible and improve after treatment.

Anyway, it is advisable to get a bone density scan done for an objective evaluation of the amount of osteoporosis you have.

Take Care,

Buddy M.D.