Impact of Hypoparathyroidism on Daily Life

Brian Murphy, Ph.D. avatar

by Brian Murphy, Ph.D. |

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Hypoparathyroidism can impact your daily life in many different ways, potentially affecting your ability to perform physical activities or get work done on the job, or even your mood. Identifying the impact it can have is the first step in working to overcome any difficulties the disease may create.

The rare condition is caused by a reduction or loss in the production of parathyroid hormone, known as PTH. PTH is involved in the regulation of calcium in the blood. When your levels of PTH  are too low, your levels of calcium also end up being low. Calcium is essential for the functions of many different cells, including nerve cells and muscle cells.

The following will address the impact that hypoparathyroidism can have in different areas of your life, and give you some tips for dealing with the challenges it can cause.

Physical activities

Hypoparathyroidism leads to a number of symptoms that may affect your ability to perform physical activities.

Pain, weakness, cramps, and muscle spasms or twitches due to low calcium levels can make it more difficult to perform activities such as exercise or household chores. You may be able to get help from family members with everyday tasks. If you’re doing chores yourself, make sure to not overdo them.

Fatigue is another common symptom of hypoparathyroidism and it can make you feel like you have no energy. This also can impair your ability to perform physical activities. Taking more frequent breaks and pacing yourself may help you still accomplish your daily goals.

You also may experience numbness and tingling sensations in your hands, feet, or mouth that can make some activities difficult. Foot numbness can potentially lead to frequent falls. Numbness and tingling in the hands, combined with spasms, could make tasks like preparing dinner more dangerous since you could potentially cut or burn yourself accidentally. Take care and pay full attention to what you are working on to minimize risks.

Heart problems due to the disease also can make physical activities more difficult. With hyperparathyroidism, you may be at higher risk of certain heart complications, such as an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) and cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy. Such heart conditions may cause or contribute to fatigue and could cause you to feel weak and light-headed during physical activities due to low oxygen levels in your body. Some case studies in patients with heart conditions and hypoparathyroidism found that treatment with calcium and vitamin D supplements helped reduce or eliminate symptoms.

Socializing

Hypoparathyroidism can potentially affect your social life. You may experience skin symptoms such as dry, itchy, and scaly patches of skin or changes in your hair such as excessive hair growth or loss. Abnormal dark patches on your skin and chronic yeast infections also can occur in hypoparathyroidism. All of these factors may make you self-conscious and impact your desire to socialize. You should focus on the fact that your friends and family will appreciate you for who you are and not for your appearance.

Chronic fatigue also can make you reluctant to interact with others. Pacing yourself and planning shorter outings can help you still enjoy social activities without overdoing it.

Up to 70% of patients with hypoparathyroidism experience some form of seizures. Concern over seizures may keep you from trying new activities or from going places, such as out to eat or on vacations. Making sure you have a seizure action plan and sharing it with at least one person you are socializing with may help reduce your anxiety about having a seizure. Some studies showed that treatment with calcium supplements along with activated vitamin D helped reduce the number of seizures that patients experience. Anti-epileptic medications also may help.

Brain fog, a symptom that is sometimes reported in hypoparathyroidism, can affect your ability to think clearly, concentrate, or remember. These symptoms may lead to stressful situations with friends or family. Explaining that the issues are part of your hypoparathyroidism may make them more understanding.

Work

Hypoparathyroidism also may affect your ability to work. Brain fog can cause you to forget assignments or not be able to concentrate. Making sure that you take frequent breaks, get enough rest, and stay well hydrated may help combat brain fog.

Due to fatigue, you also may need to take frequent breaks or work reduced hours. Fatigue, muscle problems, and loss of sensation can interfere with the types of work you can do. It may be difficult to do any physically demanding tasks. Numbness may make it hard to do precise tasks. There are a number of workplace accommodations that your employer may be willing or required to do to help you complete your job.

Seizures also may interfere with your ability to work depending on how frequent and severe they are. Sharing your seizure action plan with a coworker or representative may help you feel more comfortable about seizures in the workplace.

Mood

Hypoparathyroidism also has been shown to impact mood. It may lead to anxiety and worry about symptoms such as seizures and how they could impact your plans. The disease’s impact on your career and finances also can lead to increased stress. Your symptoms may cause you to feel isolated, which could lead to depression.

Staying motivated

There are a number of ways to stay motivated with hypoparathyroidism. These include developing a support network and getting out more to enjoy nature whenever possible.

You may try thinking of daily responsibilities using the spoon theory — basically learning how to ration the limited amount of energy you may have due to the disease. Identifying its impact on your life and ways in which you may be able to better cope might help you to relieve stress and not get overwhelmed and exhausted.

 

Last updated: March 5, 2021

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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.