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How Long Can You Live Without A Thyroid

Why Some People Don’t Have A Thyroid


There are a number of reasons that you could be missing your thyroid gland, and your symptoms may change if you had your thyroid gland in the past, but do not have it now.

The most common reasons for an absent thyroid gland include:

  • The treatment of thyroid cancer is usually surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid Medication Mistakes To Avoid

Thyroid hormone replacement medication, like levothyroxine , is prescribed when your thyroid gland isnt making enough thyroid hormone. The medication provides needed thyroid hormone, which helps with symptoms of hypothyroidism, like fatigue, weight gain, or hair loss.

If you take Synthroid and youve ever wondered how long you can go without thyroid medication, youre not alone. Generally, if you take a synthetic thyroid hormone like Synthroid and accidentally skip a dose, theres little harm. But not taking your thyroid medication for longer periods of time can lead to bigger problems and long-term risks.

On the other hand, overdiagnosis and overtreatment of hypothyroid are very common. Additionally, with the right health support, some patients may be able to reduce or discontinue their thyroid hormone replacement. In this article, well help you answer the question, How long can you go without thyroid medication?

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  • Sometimes thyroid nodules, a goiter, or an enlarged thyroid need to be surgically removed if the growth affects breathing or swallowing. Rarely, an enlarged thyroid may be removed if it is cosmetically undesirable.
  • Some people with a toxic nodule, a goiter, or Grave’s disease have hyperthyroidism when too much thyroid hormone is produced and released. One of the treatment options considered for this type of hyperthyroidism includes surgical removal of the thyroid gland.
  • A small percentage of people are born without a thyroid gland or with a malformed thyroid, a condition known as congenital hypothyroidism.

There are other situations in which the thyroid gland is not completely absent, but the function is so severely diminished that the underactivity is below the levels expected from standard hypothyroidism.

These conditions include:

  • Radioactive iodine treatment for hypothyroidism for Grave’s disease is known as ablation therapy. RAI greatly impairs and may completely destroy your gland’s ability to produce thyroid hormone, leaving you hypothyroid.
  • Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition in which antibodies gradually destroy your thyroid’s ability to produce hormones.
  • Medications, such as lithium, can damage your thyroid’s ability to produce thyroid hormone.

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Can You Live Without Your Thyroid

The short answer is yes. People can live full, long lives without a thyroid if they take medication to replace the absence of thyroid hormones in their body with thyroid medication.

People can live for a very long time without thyroid hormones, but they will develop symptoms that decrease their quality of life. A lack of thyroid hormones can also increase your risk for other health conditions that can shorten your life expectancy, including heart disease and obesity.

The most severe consequence of not having thyroid hormone in your body is myxedema coma or death. Myxedema is a term that generally denotes severe hypothyroidism. A myxedema coma is a rare, life-threatening resulting from long-standing hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism due to any cause can cause myxedema coma if left untreated.

However, long before this happens, you’ll start to experience other side effects which indicate that your thyroid isn’t functioning correctly. Many people live for several years without even knowing they have an underactive thyroid. Eventually, symptoms do develop, which prompts them to see their doctor.

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When Robert was first diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, he felt a huge sense of relief. It gave him answers and a path forward, and he believed that medication would quickly get his hormones under control. He thought he was a few weeks from feeling back to his old self.

But despite daily oral antithyroid medications, his hyperthyroidismand his symptomspersisted, and he began considering more dramatic solutions. Using radioactive iodine or thyroidectomy, Roberts doctor would be able to permanently damage or surgically remove his thyroid, making overproduction of thyroid hormones impossible. But these seemed like drastic measures and he had a multitude of questions about the procedures, including the most basic of inquiries: can you live without a thyroid? Not just in terms of surviving, but in terms of quality of life? Was the cure truly better than hyperthyroidism itself?

Thesequestions are common amongst patients considering irreversible thyroidtreatment. To make the best decision about your health, youll want to considerthe answers carefully.

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How Well Are You Absorbing Your Thyroid Medication

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.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can vary from person to person and may include

  • nervousness or irritability
  • goiter

In people over age 60, hyperthyroidism is sometimes mistaken for depression or dementia. Older adults may have different symptoms, such as loss of appetite or withdrawal from people, than younger adults with hyperthyroidism. You may want to ask your health care provider about hyperthyroidism if you or your loved one show these symptoms.

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What Is The Thyroid And What Does It Do

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It is a thyroid hormone factory! Thyroid hormones control everything your body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism, weight. They even affect how your skin, hair, and nails behave.

Your thyroid gland takes iodine from your blood to make the hormone thyroxine or T4. The 4 is because it has four iodine molecules. Another thyroid hormone is T3 with three iodine molecules. More on the iodine later.

Your thyroid is in constant communication with your brain. Your brain sends out a signal called thyroid stimulating hormone . TSH tells the thyroid when the factory needs to up its production. When the body has enough thyroid hormone, the brain relaxes. It sends out less TSH telling the thyroid to make less hormones. Hows that for teamwork?

Thyroid: The Hormone Factory Of Human Body

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The thyroid gland is an essential part of the endocrine system in your body. This butterfly-shaped organ dwells in the base of your neck. It produces, stores, and releases hormones in your body using the iodine you eat.

The thyroid gland produces the two most active hormones in your body. They are Triiodothyronine and Thyroxine . These hormones travel through your entire body to reach all your cells and create magic.

What does the thyroid do to your body? Simply put, it controls almost everything in your body. It regulates:

  • Your metabolic rate

Therefore, T3 and T4 hormones must be at an optimal level in your body.

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Different Medication For Thyroid Problem

Thyroid disease is difficult to diagnose. You can easily confuse the symptoms with other conditions. For example, social anxiety, HOCD, OCD, PTSD, and dementia. But blood tests, imaging, and physical exams can easily detect it. Doctors usually prescribe medication based on your thyroid condition. The medication aims to bring your thyroid hormone levels back to normal. If you have hypothyroidism, the main treatment is thyroid replacement medication. This treatment includes a synthetic way to add thyroid hormones back into your body. Levothyroxine is one common drug doctors usually prescribe for controlling hypothyroidism. If you have hyperthyroidism, treatment options may include:

  • Anti-thyroid drugs: Medicines like methimazole and propylthiouracil slows down your thyroid from making hormones.
  • Radioactive iodine: This treatment damages the cells of your thyroid. So, It prevents the gland from making higher levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Beta-blockers: They only help control your symptoms. This treatment does not affect the amount of hormone production.
  • Surgery: Your doctor may surgically remove your thyroid . This will stop the gland from creating hormones. However, for the rest of your life, you need to take thyroid replacement hormones. You have to be cautious about foods to avoid after total thyroidectomy.

Can You Live Without A Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is an essential organ. Your body relies on the hormones it produces to regulate your metabolism. Without those necessary hormones, you can develop hypothyroidism, leading to long-term complications if you do not get treatment.

In short, can you live without a thyroid? Yes, but you will need lifelong treatment with thyroid hormone replacement medication.

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What Causes Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism has several causes, including Graves disease, thyroid nodules, and thyroiditisinflammation of the thyroid. Rarely, hyperthyroidism is caused by a noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. Consuming too much iodine or taking too much thyroid hormone medicine also may raise your thyroid hormone levels.

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It can include walking, hiking, running, swimming, or working out in a gym. A program of low impact aerobics exercise and strength training is probably the best type of exercise for hypothyroidism, explains Dr. Akhunji. Low impact aerobics can increase heart rate without putting too much exertion on your joints.

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Final Thoughts With Thyroid

How long can you go without thyroid medication? The simple answer is you should not go without your medication. Remember, thyroid disease is a life-long complicated condition. You can develop new symptoms right after the treatment started. The reason can be either the wrong medication dose or by discontinuation of the medication. Follow the schedule your endocrinologist prescribed and stick with the same brand. In that way, you can avoid the side effects of stopping thyroid medication.

Rubab Sikandar

I am Rubab Sikandar, and I have done MPhil in food and nutrition. I am a professional dietician and content writer. I always try to deliver the best content to the readers. It’s my passion to write on medical, health and fitness. Sharing is caring so I always share what I learned in my academic career.

Side Effects Of Not Having A Thyroid

If you do not have a thyroid, your body is unable to produce any thyroid hormones. Therefore you may face some symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a condition with a low thyroid hormone level. The symptoms include:

  • Weight gain

To prevent this, you need thyroid replacement therapy.

You may ask, can you live without a thyroid without medication? The answer is No.

You may face a Myxedema coma. It is a severe and fatal consequence. You may face it if you do not continue your thyroid replacement therapy. Generally, it results from long-lasting hypothyroidism.

So, you must take your thyroid medicine for the rest of your life.

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Not Having Your Overactive Thyroid Treated Can Kill You

In fact, its not if, but when youll die if you dont get treatment for hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid produces too much of the hormone thyroxine, says Marcelle Pick, MSN, OB/GYN, NP, in private practice and cofounder of Women to Women Health Center, and author of the book, Is It Me or My Hormones?

Doctors often refer to the thyroid as the master gland. Certainly, its not hard to believe that neglecting to treat thyroid disease can have fatal consequences.

What Causes Thyroid Disease

No Thyroid? Hypothyroidism? What Can I Do?

There are various different factors causing hyper- and hypothyroidism.

The following conditions cause hypothyroidism:

Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. This can lower the number of hormones produced.

A special form of thyroiditis is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is a genetic disorder caused by diseases of the immune system and can be passed from one generation to the other. In addition, thyroiditis can occur in women after giving birth also referred to as postpartum thyroiditis. It is usually a temporary condition and occurs only in 5-9% of woman giving birth.

Nutrition also impacts your thyroid functions. Iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism. This is a worldwide problem affecting approximately 100 million people. As mentioned earlier, iodine is used by the thyroid gland to produce hormones.

The following conditions cause hyperthyroidism:

Graves’ disease is a condition where the entire thyroid gland might be overactive and produce too much hormone. Your thyroid gland might be enlarged. This problem is also called diffuse toxic goitre.

Thyroiditis can also cause the opposite and trigger the release of hormones that were stored in the thyroid gland. This uncontrolled release of thyroid hormones causes hyperthyroidism for a few weeks or months. It may occur in women after childbirth.

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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.

Physiology Of Thyroid Hormone

Thyroid hormone plays a critical role in the development and function of virtually every organ system in humans., This process is stimulated by TSH. The anterior pituitary releases TSH in response to thyroid-releasing hormone, which is secreted by the hypothalamus. The thyroid gland secretes both thyroxine and triiodothyronine , which exert a negative feedback on TSH releasing hormone and TSH secretion.,

The thyroid gland secretes mainly T4, which is deiodinated intracellularly to the active hormone T3 which then binds to thyroid hormone receptors and functions as a transcription factor for many cellular processes. In the absence of a thyroid gland, exogenous L-T4 is efficiently converted to T3. Serum T3 levels remain stable after L-T4 administration but vary widely after oral administration of liothyronine . Moreover, L-T4 is a better regulator of TSH secretion as it is more likely than T3 to pass the bloodbrain barrier. This is why L-T4 has been the drug of choice for long-term treatment of athyreotic individuals.

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How Is A Thyroidectomy Performed

Your thyroidectomy will be performed in a hospital or outpatient surgery setting. Your surgeon will perform a thyroidectomy using one of the following approaches:

  • Minimally invasive surgery involves inserting special instruments and an endoscope through a small incision in your neck. An endoscope is a thin, lighted instrument with a small camera. The camera transmits pictures of the inside of your body to a video screen viewed by your surgeon while performing surgery. Minimally invasive surgery generally involves a faster recovery and less pain than open surgery. This is because it causes less damage to tissues and organs. Your surgeon will make small incisions instead of a larger one used in open surgery. Surgical tools are threaded around muscles and tissues instead of cutting through or displacing them as in open surgery.

  • Open surgery involves making a three to four inch incision in your neck. Open surgery allows your surgeon to directly view and access the surgical area. Open surgery generally involves a longer recovery and more than minimally invasive surgery. Open surgery requires a larger incision and more cutting and displacement of muscle and other tissues than minimally invasive surgery. Despite this, open surgery may be a safer or more effective method for certain patients.

Your surgeon will perform a thyroidectomy using general anesthesia. In some cases, a thyroidectomy may only require local anesthesia.

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How Long Can You Go Without Thyroid Medication Before Symptoms

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A person can go for many years without thyroid hormones. Indeed, people often go undiagnosed for decades despite suffering from hypothyroid symptoms. However, without thyroid replacement medication, a person with overt hypothyroidism cannot function optimally and will suffer from the physical and mental symptoms of hypothyroidism.

The half-life of levothyroxine is 6-7 days, which means it takes about 4-5 weeks for your body to rid itself of levothyroxine. Nonetheless, as synthetic T4 levels start to wane, you can begin to experience symptoms within the first week of not taking your medication.

It is essential to stay current with your thyroid blood tests, thyroid doctor√Ęs visits, and maintain your prescription to prevent a recurrence of hypothyroid symptoms. Keep in mind that it takes between 4-6 weeks before thyroid replacement medication reaches its peak therapeutic effect. Therefore, if you have a lapse in taking your medicine, such as forgetting to pack it on a trip or refill your prescription, it will take time for your symptoms to stabilize.

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