Symptoms of Hypoparathyroidism

Symptoms of hypoparathyroidism are generally caused by low calcium levels (known as hypocalcemia).

Because calcium is the most important electrolyte in the body and helps with nervous and muscular activity, hypocalcemia can cause a wide range of symptoms from mild (pins and needles sensations,) to severe and life-threatening (cardiac arrest).

 

Paresthesia (pins and needles)

This is a feeling of pins and needles or numbness. Many people with hypocalcemia report paresthesia around their lips and mouth, as well as their hands and feet. It can also be felt throughout the body, including up and down the legs and arms, the back, and the head. Often paresthesia is an early sign of calcium deficiency.

Tetany (muscle spasms and cramps)

Tetany has been described by hypoparathyroidism patients as “a charley horse on steroids.” This is when the muscles begin to seize or cramp up, causing extreme pain and the inability to relax. Tetany is often felt in the hands and feet but can occur in any part of the body. Severe tetany can involve spasms in the voice box (laryngospasm), making it difficult to breathe, and can also cause seizures or cardiac arrest.

Muscle and Bone pain

Less severe than tetany, hypocalcemia can cause aching throughout the muscles and deeper into the bones.

 

Mood changes

Hypocalcemia can impact mood and personality. People may experience anxiety, depression, and irritability.

Memory changes

Hypocalcemia impacts memory and can result in short-term memory loss.  

Brain Fog

Brain fog is a term often used by people living with hypoparathyroidism to describe challenges with focus and concentration that can occur when calcium levels are off.

Fatigue 

Low calcium can cause fatigue. Some patients describe this fatigue as heavy, overwhelming, or exhausting. When the fatigue is severe, it can impact the ability to carry out daily functions.

 

 

 

The most serious complications of hypoparathyroidism are often associated with long-term illness, especially when the condition has been poorly managed.

These complications may include:  

    • Dental problems 
    • Dry or fragile hair
    • Brittle nails 
    • Cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eyes) 
    • Seizures
    • Kidney disease
    • Congestive heart failure 
    • Intracranial hypertension (increased pressure of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull) 
    • Soft tissue calcifications (calcium deposits in the brain, kidneys)