What Happens When You Remove the Thyroid?

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What Happens When You Remove the Thyroid?
What Happens When You Remove the Thyroid? (Image: www.painfree.hk)

Introduction

The thyroid is a small gland located at the base of your neck. This gland is responsible for the production of hormones, including triiodothyronine and thyroxine. These hormones assist with a variety of body functions, including your metabolism and heart rate. Unfortunately, diseases such as cancer, extreme hypothyroidism and goiters can affect your thyroid. In these cases, your doctor may recommend that all or a portion of your thyroid gland be removed. This process is called a thyroidectomy.

Partial Removal

In the case of only a partial removal of your thyroid gland, the rest of your thyroid will usually take over the normal duties of the part that has been removed. However, the gland will not work as well as it once did. It may take a few weeks for your thyroid to fully transfer duties over to its remaining parts. You also may experience a sore throat and neck until the surgery site has had time to heal.

Full Removal

If your doctor removes your entire thyroid, your body will begin to exhibit symptoms similar to hypothyroidism, due to the lack of thyroid hormones in your body. These symptoms may include fatigue, elevated cholesterol levels, uncontrollable weight gain, muscle weakness and depression. You can treat these symptoms with medication.

Medication

Most doctors prescribe levothyroxine to help treat the issues resulting from the removal of your thyroid. Levothyroxine is a simulated thyroid hormone that acts in place of the hormones usually produced by your thyroid. The medication not only helps treat the symptoms, but it also may help reverse some of the resulting damage, such as bringing weight and cholesterol back down to normal levels.

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