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Parathyroid disorders affect the parathyroids, which are four small glands located on the thyroid gland. Now, the parathyroid glands produce parathyroid hormone, or PTH for short, in response to low levels of calcium in the bloodstream. So parathyroid disorders include hypoparathyroidism, which is characterized by a decrease in PTH, and hyperparathyroidism, which is characterized by an increase in PTH.
Let’s start with hypoparathyroidism, which is treated with the active form of vitamin D3 called calcitriol, which can be given orally or intravenously, as PTH replacement therapy. Once administered, calcitriol acts by binding to PTH receptors and mimicking the actions of PTH. These include promoting the absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract, as well as promoting the reabsorption of calcium from renal tubules, and to a certain extent, releasing calcium from bones into the bloodstream. As a result, calcitriol causes an increase in blood calcium levels. This medication can also be given to treat secondary hyperparathyroidism or hypocalcemia associated with chronic kidney disease, as well as pseudohypoparathyroidism.
Now, the most common side effects of calcitriol include headache and drowsiness, as well as a dry mouth and a metallic taste. Clients can also experience abdominal pain, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Calcitriol may also cause blurred vision and photophobia, as well as myalgia and arthralgia. Other important side effects include hypertension, arrhythmias, hypercalcemia, pancreatitis, and anaphylactic reactions.
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