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Can You Live Without a Thyroid: Health Outcomes and Lifespan

May 02, 2024 | 1 min read

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Is it possible to live without a thyroid gland? Yes, with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), individuals can manage without a thyroid, maintaining normal metabolic functions and overall health. However, without this treatment, severe complications can arise, affecting quality of life and lifespan.

Can You Live Without a Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate through the production of thyroid hormones. However, it is indeed possible to live without a thyroid gland. 

An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from thyroid disease, with complications that can lead to surgery, according to the American Thyroid Association data.

Medical interventions like hormone replacement therapy enable individuals to maintain a normal life post-thyroidectomy (surgical removal of the thyroid). This treatment compensates for the absence of the thyroid gland by providing synthetic thyroid hormones, which are essential for maintaining the body's metabolic rate and overall physiological balance.

The adjustments in lifestyle and medication can effectively manage the condition, although regular monitoring of hormone levels will become a necessary part of life.

How Long Can You Live Without a Thyroid?

Living without a thyroid gland does not inherently shorten your life expectancy, provided that the hormone deficiency is effectively managed with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). After the thyroid is removed, typically through surgery known as thyroidectomy, HRT becomes essential. 

After your thyroid is removed, it is important to follow up with your doctor to reassess your thyroid function blood tests (TSH tests measuring levels of thyroid stimulating hormone),” says Dr. Ascher, a family medicine physician at Northwell Health’s Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

This therapy ensures that the body continues to receive thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are hormones crucial for maintaining metabolic balance, supporting heart function, regulating temperature, and influencing the overall energy levels of the body.

With consistent and correctly dosed medication, individuals can continue to lead healthy lives without significant complications, maintaining normal bodily functions that are otherwise regulated by the thyroid.

How Long Can You Live Without a Thyroid and No Medication?

Living without a thyroid gland and not receiving hormone replacement therapy can lead to serious health risks and complications. Yes, you can survive without a thyroid and medications, but it will lead to severe metabolic disturbances, known as myxedema, which can be life-threatening if untreated.

Symptoms of severe hypothyroidism include extreme fatigue, depression, headachecold intolerance, and even heart failure. The body’s inability to regulate vital functions without these hormones drastically affects quality of life and can significantly reduce life expectancy.

Therefore, it is critical to administer hormone replacement therapy after thyroidectomy to avoid these severe health outcomes.

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