Hypoparathyroidism Q & A with Marla Ahlgrimm

Marla AhlgrimmHypoparathyroidism is a condition where the body does not produce enough parathyroid hormone (PTH). According to Marla Ahlgrimm, inadequate levels of PTH can cause a drop in blood calcium levels which leads to an increase in phosphorus. This can cause all sorts of health issues, says Ahlgrimm.

Q: What causes hypoparathyroidism? 

Marla Ahlgrimm: Hypoparathyroidism can be inherited, or may also be caused by damage during thyroid gland, neck, or throat surgery. Autoimmune diseases, radiation therapy to the neck or head, and low magnesium levels can also contribute to hypoparathyroidism.

Q: What are the most common symptoms of hypoparathyroidism? 

Marla Ahlgrimm: Hypoparathyroidism causes a number of troubling symptoms. Some of the most common are muscle spasms and cramps in the face, stomach, feet, and legs. Weakness, hair loss, and pain during the menstrual cycle are also common. Sometimes, patients experience chronic headaches, memory problems, and depression. Children with hypoparathyroidism may experience poor growth and development. Without intervention, hypoparathyroidism can cause heart and kidney problems or lead to a buildup of calcium in the brain. Hypoparathyroidism has also been linked to Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia, and cataracts.

Q: How is hypoparathyroidism diagnosed? 

Marla Ahlgrimm: Your doctor will start with a series of questions if hypoparathyroidism is suspected. This will be followed by a blood test to check PHT, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus levels. Additionally, a urine test may be ordered to determine how much, if any, calcium is being lost through urine.

Q: Is hypoparathyroidism a treatable condition? 

Marla Ahlgrimm: The main concern with hypoparathyroidism is low blood calcium levels. It is treatable by taking vitamin D/calcium supplements. Many patients with hypoparathyroidism must continue to take supplements the rest of their lives and must have blood levels checked regularly. Extremely low blood calcium levels cause a direct danger to one’s health. Patients with severe deficiencies may be given intravenous calcium and then continue to take oral supplements once levels return to normal.

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