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Can You Live Without A Thyroid Gland

What You Need To Know

  • Thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules and other conditions may require thyroidectomy.
  • Once the thyroid gland is removed, the person takes replacement thyroid hormone to keep the bodys functions in balance.
  • Thyroidectomy can be performed through an incision at the front of the neck, or through the mouth .

Reasons You Wouldn’t Have A Thyroid

People can lose their thyroid or have a poor-functioning thyroid for several reasons.


The most common reason people lose their thyroid gland is a surgical procedure called a thyroidectomy. This procedure usually occurs to treat thyroid cancer by removing some or all of the thyroid gland. Sometimes, a doctor will also do a thyroidectomy to treat thyroid nodules, goiter, or enlargement if it interferes with your breathing ability or is otherwise concerning.

Congenital malformation

Some people are born with a malformed thyroid gland or without one altogether. Although it is rare in developed countries, some babies are born with congenital hypothyroidism, leading to long-term intellectual and physical disabilities if left untreated.

There are some instances where you still physically have a thyroid gland, but it is under-functioning:

Radioactive iodine

RA is used to treat hyperthyroidism or Graves’ disease. An overactive thyroid increases your metabolism, which can have damaging health consequences. Often, RA overtreats the thyroid gland, leading to an underactive state. In these cases, people go from hyperthyroidism to hypothyroidism.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

This autoimmune condition is one of the leading causes of hypothyroidism. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system attacks your thyroid gland, causing chronic inflammation that eventually suppresses your ability to make thyroid hormones.


Your Metabolism Regulates Your Vitality

Metabolism is your bodys ability to make biological energy. This is a complex process that begins in the fetus and continues until the day you die. A number of chemical processes allow your body to convert food into energy. As thyroid hormone in your blood increases, so also does your metabolism. If your metabolism decreases, your body slows down these chemical processes to conserve energy.

Metabolism regulates many aspects of our health, such as:

  • Body temperature
  • Respiratory system and lung function
  • Ability to concentrate and stay alert
  • Digestive and bowel function

Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland doesnt produce enough thyroid hormone to maintain your bodys proper metabolic function. In the absence of proper thyroid levels, your body will work to conserve energy. Returning to the analogy of an orchestra, when a conductor is absent, the orchestra members will simply wait for his return. Members of the orchestra are not permitted to play at their own tempo the conductor always governs them.

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Thyroid Hormone Is Necessary For Life

Let’s review some of the basics:

Your thyroid gland produces two very important hormones: T3 and T4.

These are the most active thyroid hormones in your body.

Once they are released from your thyroid gland, which is located in your neck, they circulate through your entire body and interact with all of your cells.

Your thyroid gland is the only place that these thyroid hormones can be created.

So, you can imagine if that gland is damaged or removed the consequence will be an abrupt reduction in circulating thyroid hormone.

This is a major problem because thyroid hormone helps regulate several important functions in your body.

It helps maintain your metabolism , it influences other hormones , it helps your body produce energy, it helps regulate your mood , controls your blood pressure , and so on.

If you don’t have any thyroid hormone then this regulation stops and serious problems tend to occur.

The most serious consequence from not having thyroid hormone in your body is coma or death .

Long before this happens, though, you still start to experience other side effects which will tell you that your thyroid isn’t functioning properly.

These side effects include weight gain, hair loss, depression, slow thinking, cold body temperature, and chronic pain.

Now that you understand why the thyroid is so important we can start to talk about the reasons why you may want to have it removed.

Thyroid Screening In South Korea

Life Without a Thyroid

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force . The new guidelines recommended that doctors should not screen adults who dont have signs or symptoms of thyroid cancer. The Duke health blog explains:

The availability of thyroid screening contributed to a 15-fold increase in the number of thyroid cancer cases in South Korea between 1993 and 2011. Despite the mass effort to screen more people, there was no improvement in the number of people dying from thyroid cancer there is not enough evidence to suggest that widespread screening of adults without symptoms of thyroid cancer is beneficial.

This study demonstrated that there was measurable harm in screening. Screening resulted in overdiagnosis. Overdiagnosis resulted in unnecessary treatment which produced harmful outcomes. This practice was reevaluated once physicians realized that the number of people being diagnosed with thyroid cancer was 100 times higher than the number who had died of thyroid cancer.

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What Happens When You Stop Taking Thyroid Medication

If you stop taking your thyroid medication, you can expect your hypothyroid symptoms to return. Typically, the longer you go without your medication, and the more severe your thyroid disease is, the higher your risk for severe and even life-threatening conditions.

In the immediate period, after stopping your thyroid medication, you may begin to feel tired and sluggish and have a low mood. The longer you go without a prescription, the more intense your symptoms are likely to become. Not taking your thyroid medication could also worsen other health conditions you may have, including sleep apnea, depression, and type 2 diabetes.

People with moderate to severe hypothyroidism who stop taking their medication are at risk for extreme health events, including a myxedema crisis. Although very rare, a myxedema crisis is a life-threatening complication of hypothyroidism. Typically, this condition arises when someone already has uncontrolled hypothyroidism, and a precipitating event occurs, like infection or pregnancy.

In myxedema crisis, people can experience swelling all over the body, including the face, tongue, lips, and limbs. It also is accompanied by a thickening of the skin. A myxedema crisis may also cause other complications, including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Myth No : My Weight Gain Is From Hypothyroidism

There may be weight gain associated with an underactive thyroid, but its typically only 5 to 7 pounds.

Significant weight gain beyond this has nothing to do with thyroid function, says Dr. Bakar. To avoid weight gain, I tell patients with hypothyroidism to monitor their portion sizes and calories, and to avoid empty calories from, say, sugary beverages.

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Sound Sleep Is Supportive And Stress Relief

Though you are taking medication, you may still feel weak and lethargic. So, aim for proper rest and sound sleep.

Sleep at least 8 hours every day.

If you have trouble sleeping, consult with your doctor for sleep therapy.

In addition, do something relaxing like reading, painting, or meditation to keep yourself stress-free.

Life After A Thyroidectomy

Living Healthy: Thyroid Nodules

The degree to which your life would change after a thyroidectomy varies depending on how much of the thyroid was removed. Some people experience neck pain or a weak voice in the days or weeks after, but this improves over a time. Your doctors will recommend that you temporarily refrain from strenuous physical activity. If you had a partial thyroidectomy, the remaining portions should take over normal thyroid functions. For those who have had a complete removal, they will need to take a synthetic hormone replacement every day.

Whether you are doing research for yourself or for a loved one, look into our Thyroid Care Collaborative for support in your journey, and take a look at our other thyroid articles for more information about thyroid cancer. A large portion of the THANC Foundations efforts are committed to supporting and conducting research, as well as offering factual information about thyroid, head and neck cancer. This involves publishing current research, providing guidance for the cancer journey, as well as explaining medical concepts in a digestible format.

30 Stories in 30 Days

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. For the next 4 weeks, we will post stories written by thyroid cancer survivors, caregivers and friends for our 30 Stories in 30 Days campaign. We hope their perspectives and insight will help others along their journey.

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The Truth About Getting Off Your Thyroid Medication

The truth is we all need thyroid hormone.

And while some can produce an adequate amount of thyroid hormone themselves, many of us need more.

The amount of thyroid hormone you need depends on a number of variables, including age and stress.

For example, the older we get, the more our natural hormone production declines.

And the more stress we are under, the more thyroid hormone we need to compensate for that stress.

So, the older we get and the more stress we are under, the greater our need to supplement or medicate.

We can do a lot to increase the amount of the thyroid hormone that your thyroid gland is producing.

So, if youre young with low stress, then it can be very possible to produce an adequate amount of thyroid hormone yourself without the need for medication.

But if youre older or live a more stressful lifestyle then more thyroid hormone is oftentimes necessary.

Whether that thyroid hormone comes from food or medication, it doesnt really matter.

However, most people today prefer a supplement or medication in place of offal any day of the week.

This is why when working with clients, our goal is not to get off thyroid medication.

Instead, our goal is to take a two pronged approach.

First, we want to ensure that we do have an adequate amount of thyroid hormone available.

(Note: I show you a few very easy ways we do this in our 3 Food Triple-Thyroid-Boosting Daily Protocol.

So, heres my question to you

Leave a comment below and let me know.

  • Total260

What Is Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease is a general term for a medical condition that keeps your thyroid from making the right amount of hormones. Your thyroid typically makes hormones that keep your body functioning normally. When the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, your body uses energy too quickly. This is called hyperthyroidism. Using energy too quickly will do more than make you tired it can make your heart beat faster, cause you to lose weight without trying and even make you feel nervous. On the flip-side of this, your thyroid can make too little thyroid hormone. This is called hypothyroidism. When you have too little thyroid hormone in your body, it can make you feel tired, you might gain weight and you may even be unable to tolerate cold temperatures.

These two main disorders can be caused by a variety of conditions. They can also be passed down through families .

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What Are Types Of Thyroid Removal Surgery

Removal of the thyroid gland may be partial or total.

Types of thyroid removal surgeries include:

  • Hemi-thyroidectomy or thyroid lobectomy: one lobe of the thyroid is removed
  • Isthmusectomy: removal of just the bridge of thyroid tissue between the two lobes
  • Performed only for small tumors located in the isthmus
  • Total or near-total thyroidectomy: removal of all or most of the thyroid tissue
  • Open thyroid biopsy : a nodule is removed directly
  • How Well Are You Absorbing Your Thyroid Medication

    Considerations When You Don

    Certain foods, medications, or health conditions can cause you to absorb your thyroid hormone poorly, effectively lowering your dose.

    According to a 2017 research review, the following can decrease your ability to absorb the thyroid hormone levothyroxine [2

    • Certain medications: cholestyramine, colesevelam, ciprofloxacin, aluminum hydroxide, sevelamer, or proton pump inhibitors
    • Certain supplements: calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium acetate, and iron sulfate

    Vitamin C was found to increase thyroid medication absorption.

    The treatment of GI disorders can lead to increased absorption of thyroid medication. This can also happen when you change your medication or even your diet.

    Better absorption can lead to too much thyroid hormone. If you take a medication like Synthroid and notice symptoms of hyperthyroidism , have your doctor test your thyroid hormone levels.

    For patients who cannot resolve the reason for poor medication absorption, liquid T4 may be a better choice than standard T4 medication.

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    If Part Of My Thyroid Is Surgically Removed Will The Other Part Be Able To Make Enough Thyroid Hormones To Keep Me Off Of Medication

    Sometimes, your surgeon may be able to remove part of your thyroid and leave the other part so that it can continue to create and release thyroid hormones. This is most likely in situations where you have a nodule thats causing your thyroid problem. About 75% of people who have only one side of the thyroid removed are able to make enough thyroid hormone after surgery without hormone replacement therapy.

    This Happens More Often Than You Think

    The below cases are two specific examples where medical policy went beyond public safety. These examples demonstrate that whenever doctors develop policies that are not based on accurate data, the result is always patient harm. It is perfectly normal for thyroid tissue to contain benign tumors known as nodules. Any assertion against this fact is not based on guidelines recommended by the American Thyroid Association.

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    Healthy Diet Means Healthy Living

    If you want a healthy life a healthy diet is important. So, check what food you should eat and what foods to avoid if you have no thyroid.

    Pack your plate with rich vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and nut oil.

    There are few foods that you should avoid or eat at a moderate level. Foods like soy-based food, cruciferous vegetables , and processed foods may interfere with your thyroid medication. It can worsen your health.

    Also, avoid sugar, saturated fat, and frozen foods to avoid weight gain.

    Why Are Permanent Solutions Necessary

    No Thyroid? Hypothyroidism? What Can I Do?

    Many of us hesitate before making permanent changes to our bodiesand rightfully so. Why would it be necessary to permanently disable or remove the thyroid gland? In some cases, the truth is that it isnt a necessity, but a personal choice some people decide, for a variety of reasons, that radioactive iodine or thyroidectomy is preferable to other forms of treatment. In other cases, the individual may not respond well to other therapies, and serious intervention is necessary in order to prevent their condition from progressing.

    The damage caused by an uncontrolled overactive thyroid can be extensive, affecting muscles, bones, cardiovascular system, and reproductive organs. Eliminating all or part of the thyroid is sometimes the only way to reduce these risks. Additionally, in the case of thyroid cancer, its often safer to remove the thyroid altogether to ensure all cancerous tissue is destroyed. Meanwhile, goiters and nodules often require surgery when they raise hormone levels or cause pressure on the esophagus and trachea. In other words, whether a permanent solution is a good option is largely dependent on the nature of your condition.

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    Our Recent Transition To Thyroid Medications

    As you can see, people have long since supplemented or medicated with thyroid hormone by simply getting what they needed from their diet.

    Yet today, offal consumption has declined drastically, especially here in the US.

    Is that a potential cause for the declining health weve been seeing for the past number of decades?

    Its very likely a contributing factor in my opinion.

    Today, instead of getting the thyroid hormone we need from our diet, it has become much more socially acceptable to medicate thyroid in a pill form.

    Our clients largely prefer this as well, which is why we developed our own raw desiccated thyroid supplement that doesnt require a prescription.

    But that doesnt change the fact that our ancestorshave always used thyroid hormone in one form or another.

    Tips For Living Without A Thyroid Gland

    In August of 2013, my thyroid gland was removed due to thyroid cancer. My parathyroid glands were damaged during surgery leaving me with a lifetime of hypoparathyroidism and hypocalcemia symptoms. The pathology also confirmed I suffered from Hashimotos disease an autoimmune thyroid disorder. Awesome right? My head spins just trying to take all of that in.

    Living with all of this has been quite a challenge, a test of faith, and overall an intense learning experience. As with everything in life, some moments have been good and others, not so much. While I could go on for days sharing with you what I have been through, today I am sharing ten lessons Ive learned from my own experience with autoimmune and thyroid disease.

    7). A shift in purpose. They removed my thyroid, and I found my voice. Its amazing how much something like this can change you. With this newfound love for my life, came this calling to make changes and seek out my purpose. This business of living a life that doesnt jive with my spirit is done. I love that quote from the poet Rumi that says, The wound is the place where the Light enters you. Embrace that new light and feeling you have inside. If you feel its leading you in a new direction, follow it. Something amazing could be waiting for you just around the bend.

    About the Author

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    Can I Check My Thyroid At Home

    You can do a quick and easy self-exam of your thyroid at home. The only tools you need to do this self-exam are a mirror and a glass of water.

    To do the thyroid self-exam, follow these steps:

    • Start by identifying where your thyroid is located. Generally, youll find the thyroid on the front of your neck, between your collar bone and Adams apple. In men, the Adams apple is much easier to see. For women, its usually easiest to look from the collar bone up.
    • Tip your head back while looking in a mirror. Look at your neck and try to hone in on the space you will be looking once you start the exam.
    • Once youre ready, take a drink of water while your head is tilted back. Watch your thyroid as you swallow. During this test, youre looking for lumps or bumps. You may be able to see them when you swallow the water.

    Repeat this test a few times to get a good look at your thyroid. If you see any lumps or bumps, reach out to your healthcare provider.


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