The thyroid gland plays a key role in the general functioning of your body. It is tasked with regulating metabolism and hormone production.
But there are instances when your doctor may recommend thyroid removal. Owing to the key role that the thyroid gland plays, it is natural to wonder if that’s a good idea.
If recommended though, a good doctor will ensure that you understand their reasons for recommending the procedure before proceeding. They will also explain the potential risks in the best way for you to understand.
This blog post explores the key considerations of thyroid removal. Keep reading!
What is the Thyroid Gland Responsible for?
To begin, the thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, just below your larynx. It comprises two lobes lying on either side of your windpipe.
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that help control metabolism, growth and development. If it malfunctions, you may run into complications like hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
These conditions can cause an array of symptoms which may not be pleasing to say the least. You may experience;
- Sudden weight changes
- Mood swings, and even
- Difficulties with concentration.
The treatment options for thyroid conditions vary significantly. So, if you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid problem, you can basically expect your doctor to recommend the best treatment based on the specific diagnosis.
Depending on your diagnosis, they may recommend medications, radioactive iodine therapy, or surgery. There are several other approaches that may be preferred.
Thyroid removal, or thyroidectomy, is a surgical procedure in which part or all of the thyroid gland is removed. There are three main reasons why your doctor may recommend thyroid removal including if;
- It is overactive
- It has gown very large
- It has cysts, nodules or growths with suspicious characteristics of cancer
So, Can You Live Without Your Thyroid?
One of the biggest concerns among patients who have been recommended thyroid removal is if they can still live without thyroid. So, it isn’t really strange for patients to ask; How long can a person live without a thyroid?
Here’s a simple answer; living without a thyroid gland is possible. You can achieve this with the help of thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
The hormone replacement therapy is particularly important because after thyroidectomy, the body can no longer produce thyroid hormones naturally. So, you’d be prescribed a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine.
This medication helps regulate the body’s metabolism. It ensures that the necessary hormone levels are maintained. As for how long you can live without a thyroid, it is important to understand that not having thyroid or having an underactive thyroid doesn’t reduce your life expectancy if you get the right treatment.
Perhaps, the only concern is the reason why your thyroid was removed. It is what may ultimately affect how long you still have to live.
What happens immediately after the Thyroid Gland is removed?
If you’ve been scheduled a thyroid removal, it is also natural to feel a little anxious about what will happen immediately your thyroid removal. Here’s what you can expect;
In the immediate post-surgery recovery period, you may experience pain and swelling in the neck area. However, these symptoms are mild.
And they can be easily managed with pain medication. They will also subside quickly. Also, though safe, thyroid removal isn’t entirely risk free. Complications, although rare, may include;
- Infection, or
- Damage to adjacent structures like the parathyroid glands or vocal cords.
Long-term effects of thyroid removal can vary. This usually depends on whether you had a partial or total thyroidectomy.
Depending on your individual condition following the procedure, you may require a lifelong thyroid hormone replacement therapy. You may also experience some changes in metabolism, weight, or energy. To ensure optimal health post-thyroidectomy, be sure to maintain regular monitoring and follow-up care with your doctors.
So, is it Still Good to Remove Thyroid Gland?
Your doctor will recommend thyroid removal for you if they’re convinced that the benefits outweigh the potential risks. It may be good to remove the thyroid gland if;
- You’re Trying to Treat Thyroid Cancer: Your doctor may recommend thyroid removal as the primary treatment for thyroid cancer. Here, it may be recommended to help eliminate cancerous cells. It may also be recommended to help curb the spread of the disease to other parts of the body. Additional treatments like radioactive iodine therapy may be used in conjunction with surgery to target any remaining cancer cells.
- You’re Trying to Control of Severe Hyperthyroidism Symptoms: If you’ve been prescribed medications or radioactive iodine therapy for severe hyperthyroidism but you’ve not been able to achieve relief, thyroid removal can be an effective treatment option. Removing the overactive thyroid gland will help put a stop to excess thyroid hormone production. You may also experience improvement on other symptoms like weight loss, rapid heartbeat, and anxiety.
- You want to Manage Large Thyroid Nodules: Thyroid nodules can grow to a significant size. When this happens, they may cause discomfort or difficulty swallowing. In these cases, removing the enlarged nodules can alleviate these symptoms, and improve your quality of life.
- You want Psychological and Emotional Benefits: If you’re struggling with chronic thyroid conditions, thyroid removal can offer psychological and emotional relief. The physical symptoms and the ongoing management of medications can take a toll on mental well-being. By addressing the underlying cause through thyroid removal, individuals may experience improved overall emotional health and well-being.
Considerations and Alternatives to Thyroid Removal
The decision to undergo thyroidectomy should be made based on the case. It should be reached at after a thorough consideration on the specific condition, your preferences, and expert advice.
This is important because there are also alternative treatment options for thyroid conditions that can help. For example, medication and radioactive iodine therapy could be all you need to manage your symptoms. These treatments may be appropriate in certain cases, allowing you to avoid surgery while effectively managing your thyroid condition.
Thyroid removal offers the potential for cancer treatment. It can also help in the control of severe hyperthyroidism symptoms, among other benefits including improved psychological health. Living without a thyroid gland is possible with the help of thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
So, you shouldn’t really fret if you’re recommended thyroid removal. Consult with your doctor and weigh all risks vs. benefits to be sure.
We are here to support you in making the best decisions for your thyroid health. We can also help with thyroid removal if that’s necessitated. To learn more about our services or schedule a consultation, call or visit us at:
Dr. Soma – Allergy & Sinus ENT Specialist @ Parkway East | Earwax Removal | Sinus Surgery Singapore
321 Joo Chiat Pl,
#05-01 Parkway East Specialist Hospital,
+65 6517 9760