As many as 70% of patients with hypoparathyroidism experience seizures, which are periods of irregular electrical activity in the brain that can cause a disruption in movements, perceptions or thoughts.
Researchers think seizures in hypoparathyroidism are the result of low levels of calcium due to low levels of parathyroid hormone. The low calcium levels may lead to changes in the ratio of calcium inside and outside of brain cells, causing them to activate incorrectly. They also may lead to deposits of calcium in the brain tissue, causing damage to the cells.
Before seizures begin there likely will be warning signs. Here is what you should watch for and what you can do if you experience one or more such signs.
Warning signs in advance of seizures
Some patients experience warning signs hours to days before they experience a seizure. This period before seizures begin is called the prodromal stage. During this phase, you may experience symptoms that include changes in mood, a feeling of being lightheaded, anxiety, trouble focusing, difficulty sleeping, and changes in behavior.
Warning signs at seizure onset
Auras are strange feelings or sensations people have at the very beginning of a seizure. Small localized seizures in a part of the brain cause auras. These can develop into generalized seizures that affect the entire brain.
Auras vary from person to person and they can lead to a number of different symptoms such as:
- a feeling of butterflies in the stomach
- unusual tastes or smells
- intense feelings of joy or fear
- numbness or tingling
- vision irregularities, such as colors or hallucinations
- déjà vu (feeling that something has happened before)
- jerking or stiffness in a limb
- losing bladder or bowel control
What to do if you experience signs
If you experience any of the above warning signs, you should keep a journal of what you experienced and when it occurred. This is especially important if you eventually have a more severe seizure. You can share the information in the journal with your doctors. This can help them diagnose whether the signs were related to a seizure. Several of these signs could be related to other illnesses or medication you may be taking. Your doctor may recommend further testing to reach a diagnosis and to aid in choosing treatment options.
If you have had a seizure, you could use these signs to prepare for a possible oncoming seizure. You should go to a safe place where there is little risk of injury. You also should notify the people around you about what is happening so they are not surprised if you have a seizure, and know to check on you to make sure you are okay afterward. If you have a seizure action plan, you may want to share it with them so they know what to expect and how to help you.
Finally, you may want to talk with your doctor about your blood calcium levels to see if they are low and could be triggering your seizures or causing these warning signs. Changes in your diet or supplement routine may help stop or reduce the incidence of seizures.
Last updated: Feb. 5, 2021
Hypoparathyroidism News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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