Thyroid hormones are involved in the regulation of body temperature, heart rate, and many other aspects. Living without a thyroid is possible. Considering all the organic systems involved, it is necessary to take measures that preserve the functions of the body.
The thyroid is one of the most important glands in our body. It is located at the base of the neck and is responsible for regulating numerous aspects of metabolism. Therefore, it is normal to consider whether it is possible to live without a thyroid.
This gland exerts its function through the production of thyroid hormones, which act in almost all the tissues of our body. For example, these hormones can increase heart rate, sweating or even nutrient utilization.
Diseases of the thyroid gland are quite frequent. Everyone has ever heard of disorders such as hyper or hypothyroidism, thyroid nodules or even thyroid cancer. However, few people know the reality of these pathologies or how they are treated.
In many cases, it is necessary to perform an organ removal, through an operation called thyroidectomy. This implies living without a thyroid. In this article we explain why it is done if a normal life can be carried out after surgery.
Why do you have to live without a thyroid?
As we have already mentioned, this gland is responsible for regulating much of the metabolic reactions that occur in our body. For example, body temperature, nervous system development or bone growth.
This means that thyroid hormones are essential since pregnancy, for the baby to develop properly. For the rest of life, they are still necessary for survival.
However, there are many pathologies that affect this gland and whose treatment requires removal. Doctors called this operation as a thyroidectomy and they use to treat diseases such as:
Thyroid nodules: these are small lumps that grow in the gland due to an abnormal proliferation of cells. Most of them are benign, but others are difficult to identify. Therefore, in many cases, doctors remove the thyroid due to the risk of carcinogens.
Goiter: it consists of an enlarged gland. This enlargement is uncomfortable and unsightly, as it can cause difficulties in swallowing or breathing.
Certain cases of hyperthyroidism: Those medical treatment is not enough to control the symptoms.
Thyroid cancer: As we have just explained, the majority of cases in which it is decided to eliminate the thyroid is due to the risk of a carcinogenic process.
You can note that, in some cases, partial thyroidectomies can be performed. In those cases, only part of the gland is removed. The other part can continue to function and produce hormones.
How do you live without a thyroid?
The truth is that you cannot live without thyroid like this without more. For this, thyroid hormones are used artificially. These hormones are necessary for life. Therefore, scientists developed drugs that contain it in the synthetic presentation.
This laboratory substance replaces all the functions of natural hormones. The most frequent form administration is to take a pill once a day, usually in the morning. In addition, it should be taken on an empty stomach. Thanks to these medications, you can live without a thyroid and in a completely normal way.
It becomes necessary to keep track of the concentration of these hormones. It is done by blood tests.
On the other hand, it is important to know that certain medications or products can alter the absorption of synthetic hormones. Therefore, when living without a thyroid, certain aspects must be clear. Oral contraceptives and antiepileptics modify the dose that needs to be prescribed.
Similarly, iron, calcium, and some food supplements may not be absorbed properly. All these considerations are explained by the doctors when establishing the treatment.
In certain thyroid diseases, although this gland is removed, the truth is that you cannot live without a thyroid, unless hormone replacement therapy is established. This treatment with artificial hormones should be followed correctly and monitored.
The final decision to remove the thyroid gland is taken together between the patients and the treating doctors. The risks and benefits of each particular case are evaluated to proceed to surgery. It is always the last option, although sometimes it is the only one.