Patients who undergo surgeries that remove their thyroid glands may need to take a synthetic thyroid hormone daily to replace naturally occurring hormones for the rest of their lives, according to Mayo Clinic. Whether a patient needs to take synthetic hormones depends on whether the operation removed the entire thyroid or only a portion of the gland.
Patients whose thyroid is only partially removed from surgery usually have enough thyroid tissue remaining in their bodies to produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones to remain healthy without significant lifestyle changes, notes Mayo Clinic. However, patients whose entire thyroid gland is removed go on to develop symptoms of hypothyroidism if they do not receive synthetic thyroid hormone, as the body is unable to synthesize these hormones. Symptoms can include fatigue, unusual sensitivity to cold and significant weight gain.
A doctor working with a patient with no remaining thyroid tissue uses blood tests to determine the initial daily dosage of replacement hormones for the patient and to monitor levels of thyroid hormone in the blood over time, states Mayo Clinic. In addition to potentially taking thyroid replacement hormones for life, any individual who undergoes thyroid surgery may experience temporary symptoms such as soreness in the throat or pain around the surgical area that may require attention for days or weeks after the surgery, explains Dr. Kirk Faust for Endocrine Surgery in North Carolina.