How Can You Live Without a Thyroid By Following 5 Great Tips
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Some of your body’s most vital hormones are produced by your thyroid gland. But if the thyroid gland is taken out, what happens then? Or ruined? Can you live without a thyroid?
Your thyroid medication contains the same hormones your body produces naturally, so the answer is yes. The only catch is that you’ll need to remain on thyroid medication for the rest of your life if your thyroid is removed or destroyed.
It can also be challenging to find the optimal dosage of medication to simulate the effects of a healthy thyroid.
Thyroid hormones are discussed here, along with the consequences of having your thyroid removed (or destroyed), potential side effects, and strategies for minimizing the need for post-operative medication.
What is Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland beneath the skin’s surface in the front of the neck. It’s a gland in your endocrine system; it secretes hormones that regulate many bodily processes. The primary function of your thyroid gland is to regulate your metabolic rate or the rate at which your body converts food into energy. Energy is essential for the proper functioning of every cell in your body.
Thyroid dysfunction can have far-reaching effects on health.
What Does the Thyroid Do to Your Body?
It’s the master switch for your entire body. Thyroid controls:
- Rate of metabolism
- Production of Energy
- The mass of your body
- How fast your heart beats
- Body Temperature
- Intestine and stomach
- Contraction of muscle tissue
- Regeneration of necrotic tissue
- Controlling your emotions
- Even more…
As a result, you need to ensure your body produces the right amount of T3 and T4.
How Does the Thyroid Work?
Two glands in the brain are responsible for producing and regulating T3 and T4 hormones, respectively. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland play these roles.
These two glands are in constant dialogue to keep your hormonal equilibrium stable.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is secreted by the pituitary gland in response to hypothalamic signals. This “TSH” stimulates the thyroid to release its hormones.
The levels of T3 and T4 in your blood are necessary for the production of TSH.
High levels of TSH are produced when T3 and T4 are depleted. Thyroid hormone production is thus also elevated.
However, when T3 and T4 levels in the blood are high, the pituitary gland secretes less TSH. Their message to the thyroid is to reduce hormone production.
Some people experience thyroid disease symptoms when their blood hormone levels are low.
Hypothyroidism (inadequate production of thyroid hormones) and hyperthyroidism (excessive production of thyroid hormones) are the two most common thyroid disorders.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Problem
The signs and symptoms of a thyroid disorder can vary greatly. Thyroid problems are uncommon, but it’s important to be aware of the warning signs because your thyroid plays an important in systems and processes like heart rate, metabolism, and temperature regulation.
- A heart rate that is either too slow or too fast.
- Abnormal and sudden changes in body weight.
- Intolerance to extreme temperatures.
- Sadness or nervousness.
- Abnormal menstrual cycles.
Thyroid function testing should be discussed with your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Can You Live Without a Thyroid?
In a nutshell, hormone replacement therapy makes it possible to function normally without a thyroid gland. If you’re experiencing symptoms of an overactive thyroid, you might be better off without it. Exogenous thyroid hormones can now supplement the body’s natural supply of thyroid hormones when necessary.
However, some people are adamant that harming or removing their thyroid isn’t the answer for them. Hyperthyroidism is often controlled medically indefinitely with antithyroid drugs, beta-blockers, and other pharmaceutical interventions. Factors may also influence hyperthyroidism in the gut microbiota. According to Eleonore Fröhlich and Richard Wahl in the August 2019 issue of Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, this “rais[es] the prospect that probiotics and other microbiota-targeted therapies might be of benefit in thyroid disease.” Some integrative medicine doctors have reported anecdotal evidence that improving thyroid function by normalizing the gut microbiome and reducing inflammation through dietary strategies can reduce or eliminate the need for medication or invasive procedures.
Many people with an overactive thyroid will opt for a more long-term treatment if the underlying cause stabilizes or worsens.
How Long Can You Live Without a Thyroid?
If you want to know how long a person can live without a thyroid, you should know that it is an important gland that makes hormones that control metabolism, growth, and development.
If a person’s thyroid gland has been removed or isn’t working right, they can still live a normal life if they get the right medical care. This is usually done by taking synthetic thyroid hormone replacements like levothyroxine to keep hormone levels normal. People can live a healthy life without thyroid if they get the right treatment and are checked regularly. But if you don’t get treatment, the lack of thyroid hormones can cause problems that can be life-threatening in the worst cases.
What Are the Side Effects of Not Having a Thyroid?
Your body can’t make thyroid hormones if you don’t have a thyroid. Because of this, you might have some signs of hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which there is not enough thyroid hormone. These are the signs:
- Gaining weight
- Can’t stand the cold
- Sleep problems
- Foggy head
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Muscle cramps
- Joints pain
To stop this from happening, you need therapy to replace your thyroid. You might wonder, “Can you live without a thyroid if you don’t take any medicine?” No, that’s not right.
You may face a Myxedema coma. It is a very bad and fatal result. It could happen if you don’t keep taking your thyroid replacement medicine. Usually, it is caused by hypothyroidism that has gone on for a long time. So, you will always have to take your thyroid medicine.
Reasons for Not Having the Thyroid
There are several reasons for not having the thyroid in your body. Let’s discuss this in detail.
Cancer of the thyroid is a leading cause of thyroid removal. Thyroid cancer develops when cells in the gland mutate, leading to uncontrolled cell growth. Conclusion: thyroid cancer.
When thyroid cancer metastasizes to the lungs or bones, it poses a grave threat to the patient’s health. The best treatment for most cases of thyroid cancer is completely removing the thyroid gland.
These are growths on the thyroid gland, which can be either harmless or dangerous. If they are big, cause symptoms, or are thought to be cancerous, the nodules or the whole thyroid gland may need to be removed.
This is another autoimmune disorder, but it makes the thyroid not work as well as it should. This is called hypothyroidism. In rare cases, thyroidectomy may be done if the condition worsens and the thyroid gland is badly damaged.
Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is caused by the autoimmune disease known as Graves’ disease. Thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine therapy, used to regulate hormone production, can cause patients to lose their ability to produce thyroid hormones.
An enlarged thyroid gland, known as a goiter, may be brought on by a lack of iodine or by the presence of thyroid nodules. A goiter may need to be removed if it grows too large or causes symptoms.
Thyroid removal, or thyroidectomy, is an operation. Thyroid surgery involves the removal of all or part of the thyroid gland from the neck. In most cases, this necessitates a life without a thyroid gland.
If your thyroid has enlarged due to nodules, a goiter, or a cyst, your doctor may recommend a thyroidectomy. The ailments above can cause structural changes in the neck and restrict breathing.
Thyroid function can be adversely affected by several medications and nutritional aids. Thyroid autoimmunity, in which your gland stops producing hormones, is one of many unwanted effects of medications like lithium, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), interferon-alpha, and amiodarone.
What if you don’t get a thyroid at birth?
Seems shocking, right? However, newborns with thyroid problems or no thyroid are not so lucky. It does happen, but rarely. Congenital hypothyroidism describes this problem. Long-term cognitive and physical impairments may result. It’s the same as what you’d do after removing your thyroid.
What Should Your T4 Level Be With No Thyroid?
If you don’t have a thyroid gland, your healthcare provider will determine your target T4 levels based on what you need and how you live. T4 (thyroxine) levels in the blood should be between 4.5 and 11.2 micrograms per deciliter (g/dL) or 58 and 140 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) as a general rule. These ranges may differ depending on which lab is doing the test.
When you take replacements for thyroid hormones, like levothyroxine, your doctor will try to keep your T4 levels within the normal reference range. To ensure your thyroid hormone levels are at their best, you may need to have your blood checked regularly and change the amount of medicine you take. Follow your doctor’s advice and get regular check-ups to keep your hormones in balance and your health in general in good shape.
What Foods to Avoid If You Have No Thyroid?
If you don’t have a thyroid and take a thyroid hormone replacement drug like levothyroxine, you should avoid some foods and substances because they can make it harder for your body to absorb the drug or change how much thyroid hormone it makes.
You don’t have to avoid these foods completely, but you should be aware of how they might affect each other and make changes as needed:
High Fiber Foods
Consuming large amounts of dietary fiber may reduce the absorption of thyroid hormone replacement medication. However, it’s important not to eliminate fiber from your diet, as it has many health benefits. Instead, try to space out the consumption of high-fiber foods and your medication.
Soy can make it hard for your body to absorb thyroid medicine. Tell your doctor if you regularly eat soy-based products so they can check your thyroid hormone levels and, if necessary, change the amount of medicine you take.
Calcium and Iron Supplements
Calcium and iron supplements can make it harder for the body to absorb thyroid medicine. Taking your medicine at least four hours before or after these supplements is best.
Foods High in Iodine
Even though your thyroid needs iodine to work properly, getting too much iodine can change your thyroid hormone levels when you’re on thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Don’t eat too much seaweed, kelp, or iodized salt, which all have a lot of iodine. But drinking a little bit shouldn’t be a problem.
Some foods are called “goitrogens” because they can make the thyroid work less well. These are all cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Cooking these vegetables can help lessen the effect they have on the thyroid. But goitrogens aren’t as much of a worry if you’re on thyroid hormone replacement therapy because your medicine will give you the needed hormones.
Coffee and Caffeinated Beverages
Your thyroid medicine might not work as well if you drink coffee. Before drinking coffee or other drinks with caffeine, you should wait at least 30 minutes to an hour after taking your medicine.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune gastrointestinal disorder triggered by gluten. Those with autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease may be at a higher risk of developing the disease. Products made with wheat, barley, or rye contain gluten. Avoiding gluten-containing foods can help those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities experience less inflammation and better overall health.
Thyroid hormone replacement therapy may not be as effective or may be absorbed less well by some medications. These include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, certain antidepressants, and lower cholesterol medications. Tell your doctor about any other drugs you’re on to make sure your thyroid medication is safe to take with them.
Life Without a Thyroid
Your life will undoubtedly be different now that you do not have a thyroid. Your medication should currently be your top priority. However, you must also consider other factors to live a healthy life.
Healthy Diet for Healthy Living
A healthy diet is essential for a long and happy life. You should double-check your diet if you don’t have a thyroid.
Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and nut oil should all find a home on your dinner plate.
You should only limit your intake of a select few foods. Thyroid medication may not work well if you eat soy-based foods, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli), and processed foods. Health problems may arise.
You can prevent weight gain by avoiding sugar, saturated fat, and frozen foods.
Sound Sleep is the Key to Getting Relieved from Stress
Despite taking your medication, you may still feel tired and frail. Get plenty of sleep and make that a priority. Get your daily recommended amount of sleep.
Talk to your doctor about sleep therapy if you have trouble sleeping.
In addition, you can keep stress at bay by engaging in calming activities like reading, painting, or meditation.
Regular Exercise is Necessary
Numerous no thyroid symptoms can be avoided through regular exercise. Hypothyroidism will be controlled, and your mood, immunity, and weight will improve.
Begin slowly. Exercising for 10–15 minutes three or more times a week is recommended. Then, work your way up to exercising for 30 minutes every day.
Don’t forget that every action counts.
If you do not have a thyroid, you must take medication. Nevertheless, there are other ways to alleviate your symptoms besides taking medication. Changing the following aspects of your life will most likely improve your quality of life:
- Thyroid-friendly eating.
- Taking part in a consistent exercise routine.
- Keeping up with regular checkups with your doctor.
- Methods for coping with stress.
Regular Follow Up
Thyroid levels and health should be monitored frequently. If you’re experiencing symptoms or going through a life change like pregnancy, your doctor may recommend a dose adjustment.
It is not impossible to survive without a thyroid gland; however, if you find yourself in this situation, you must take thyroid medication.
You can think of thyroid hormone as an essential hormone for life, and thyroid medication can help stimulate important bodily functions.
You can determine which variation of thyroid medication and dose works well for your body through trial and error and lab testing. Many different types of thyroid medications contain varying amounts of T4 and T3, and you can choose which variation works well for you.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is not comprehensive and should not be used to make health or well-being decisions. Consult a qualified healthcare professional with questions about a medical condition, treatment options, or health regimen. This website or the content should never replace professional medical advice.