Understanding what is happening to you is half the battle and when you have the facts you feel more in control. So here’s a quick summary…
What is hypopara?
Hypopara is a rare endocrine condition that needs lifelong treatment and care because it affects your parathyroid glands which in turn affect your calcium levels. Read more here
Why is calcium so important?
Your body needs calcium to stay alive. It is found in every cell and helps the …… to work properly.
What do the parathyroid glands do?
Your parathyroid glands work constantly to keep calcium levels within a safe range. This is so important that we have 4 glands instead of the usual two of everything found on the body. When your parathyroid glands don’t work properly you need to take medication to keep your calcium levels stable. And you get free prescriptions because this medication keeps you alive.
Without parathyroid hormone, your body can’t regulate calcium levels automatically when needed. That feedback mechanism is broken. That’s why our calcium levels swing up and down and why we have to make continual adjustments to our medication instead. This can be challenging, especially without blood tests.
Keeping your calcium levels stable is not always easy. When first diagnosed you might feel as if you’re on a rollercoaster as your levels swing from low to high and back again but things should settle down once your medication is properly adjusted.
Does anything else affect the calcium levels?
Yes. The calcium in your body gets used up by exercise and is also affected by your diet, alcohol, stress, infections, periods, menopause, anaesthetics, and certain medications. Your levels also respond to adjustments in your medication.
What is the aim of treatment?
The aim is to keep you feeling well without symptoms. But you need to look after your kidneys as well which means that you need to keep your calcium levels high enough to avoid symptoms of hypocalcaemia but low enough to avoid causing problems with the kidneys. It can be quite a fine balance. The aim is not, as some doctors think, to simply restore ‘normal’ calcium levels in the blood. Read more about this next.
What is the ‘normal’ calcium reference range?
The normal calcium range is around 2.10 – 2.50mmol/L although different labs may use slightly different ranges. Getting a result back that falls in this ‘normal’ range does not necessarily mean that you will be feeling OK. This range is for ‘normal’ people with PTH. You will probably feel extremely symptomatic at each end of this range and feel more comfortable somewhere in the middle. You will find that you have a small window within this range where you feel best.
You only have one life - see everything you want to and don’t let this condition take over!
What calcium level is best for me?
A long term maintenance level of 2.00mmol/L to 2.25 mmol/L is recommended in order to help protect your kidneys. In other words, your calcium should ideally be kept at the lower end of the ‘normal ‘ range. This may be difficult for some people to achieve initially until medication has been properly adjusted. Some people simply can’t do it and need to stay in the middle to be safe.
TIP: Maintaining good levels of magnesium and vitamin D3 will help you to tolerate lower calcium levels and feel better.