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how long can a body survive without thyroid hormones?

By Anonymous January 10, 2010 - 9:51pm
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I am being screened for recurrance of thyroid cancer. Thyroid removed last year and radioiodine treatment completed. Have been off synthroid for 3 weeks; 3 weeks left before screening. Feeling cold and tired. Was wondering how long the body can sustain life without hormone therapy. How does it take in nutrition meanwhile without the homones?

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I don’t know how long someone can survive without a thyroid but I think I am going to find out. My thyroid was removed in 1994 because I had thyroid cancer and I was put on synthroid after that. Now my primary care physician has moved and I can’t get my prescription renewed. My thyroid is gone completely and it is never coming back. It’s my understanding that without synthroid which I can not seem to get, I will die. Or so I’ve heard. In two days starts the count down. I will be out of synthroid and apparently will not be able to get more. Hopefully I make it to Christmas.

September 13, 2018 - 4:16pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

It's imperative that you get thyroxine or liothyronine or natural desiccated Thyroid hormone. Anyone of them, all good.. You can't leave this situation. I talk from experience. I only managed 10 days without thyroxine. I was in severe state heading into coma.
Buy what you need for time being until you get your prescription filled. International pharmacy USA in reputable

September 25, 2018 - 5:05pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Anonymous on 9/13/2018:
There is no reason for you to "find out" how long you'll make it without your necessary thyroid medication. I am suggesting you contact your most recent prescriber of synthroid and request a refill at minimum, samples perhaps, and a referral to another provider. In my experience, typical protocol is to refer patients to another medical practitioner in the same practice, or another practice once your current one can no longer oversee your care. Did you ever get a letter? Email? Not sure of actual laws on this, but...seems obvious course for 'doing no harm' to patients. Try to get into the recommended new provider if that seems appropriate to you, or find another of your own choosing--now. If this does not seem achievable on your own then ask for help getting in to that next medical provider. (NOTE: It may be better if the last doctor's office can schedule you with the new doctor. It tends to happen faster than if you call on your own. But call to MAKE SURE the appointment is booked, don't just assume anything.)
Meanwhile in midst of all those calls (probably FIRST thing), also contact the pharmacy where you last received the synthroid. Explain the situation to them. They MAY be able to provide a... perhaps up to 3 day emergency supply of the medication. Maybe even have more helpful suggestions.
Finally, I know that at least within the past year or so, synthroid cost was $10 for a either 30- or 90-day supply if purchased from Walmart pharmacy--without insurance (i don't remember which quantity). That was out of pocket cost if you have no insurance last I checked. There may be other pharmacies that charge similarly.
You come across as hopeless in your comments, and that is upsetting to read. This *should be* a fairly simple transition. I've been tossed and turned within the healthcare system as a patient. And I've been employed within it. And I've gone weeks without any thyroid medication, unintentionally (i also hv no thyroid at all). Do NOT let this go as if it'll all work out somehow. You'll need to do a few things, but persist and persist, never accepting no until you have medication in hand. (And from my experience, that persistence and ability to organize your thoughts to achieve anything will become VERY difficult if you are starting to go without medication.) DO IT NOW!!!.. i say nicely.
Get someone to help you with this if it's too much.
And re-post how you're doing when you're able.

September 24, 2018 - 3:15pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Search google...you can get these meds from Thailand,etc ...and yes, they are real and work (I purchased some, a while back).

September 15, 2018 - 5:54am
Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hello, Anon.

You need to find another physician to prescribe this medication for you. If your (former) doctor has left, please find another as soon as possible to manage your condition. In the meantime, contact your pharmacist. They might be able to help.

Keep us updated.


September 14, 2018 - 3:30pm
EmpowHER Guest

To the original poster; it's my understanding that without a thyroid gland and no medication the human body will start shutting things down gradually and death would occur after about 3 to 5 months of misery and illness. So don't stay off the medication for too long!

To everyone else, I fully sympathise with all of the responses here. I have hypothyroidism and luckily have not had thyroid cancer so I still do have a thyroid gland, though it barely functions. I take 150mcg of Levothyroxine every day and have done for about 30 years. For the past five years I have also taken Sea Kelp capsules, which I read about on a blog. I take one along with my thyroxine and one mid-way through the day, as a top-up. They are amazing and really help with the chronic tiredness. It never completely goes away and I am still weary and can't lose weight, but the Kelp really does make a difference, especially in helping with concentration.

I went for years of my adult life feeling completely ill and exhausted before I was diagnosed on my very first visit to a new doctor whom I had randomly selected when I changed jobs and had to change to their health coverage. He likely saved my life.

He knew what was wrong before he even ordered the blood tests and said he was amazed that I was even able to get myself into his office - and I'd actually gone in for something completely unrelated. My blood pressure was so low he said he'd not seen anyone ambulatory in that state before. I am angry at the doctors mentioned on here that will not even write repeat prescriptions when they are needed. This brilliant doctor actually gave me free sample packs of thyroxine if some months I couldn't afford my prescription co-pay, which was a ridiculous amount of money. He said I needed it to function and it would be unethical and cruel not to give them to me when he had them right there in the cupboard. He was one of those very rare doctors not in it for the money, as the majority of doctors seem to be in America.

Seventeen years ago I married an Englishman and moved to the UK. The care here is not based on profit and it still stuns me. Not only am I covered by the NHS for any health needs, because hypothyroidism is a chronic condition I get my Levothyroxine free, and because I have this one chronic condition all of my other prescriptions are free as well. I am automatically sent a letter every January to come in for a thyroid blood panel to monitor my condition. Because my eyelids were starting to droop due to Graves Disease my GP asked me if I'd like them sorted and referred me for surgery. This would have been considered non-essential plastic surgery in the US and I never even thought to mention it, it was my GP's suggestion all the way. The difference this made to my field of vision was brilliant and enabled me to wear contact lenses. And not a penny left my pocket for this. Not having to worry about being able to afford healthcare is a huge weight off my mind. I work and it comes out of my pay as a tax, that anyone who works pays, but regardless of financial circumstances everyone here is covered from birth,

I'm not meaning to be on a soapbox here but having lived in both America and England I have experienced healthcare in both countries and want to encourage Americans to fight for universal healthcare. You deserve it! It should be the responsibility of your government to implement a plan that actually takes care of people, rather than lining the pockets of Big Pharma, insurance companies and HMO's, etc. Every citizen has the right to healthcare, shelter and affordable food - that's pretty much the ethic in every major country except America, where folks are left to either make it on their own or they don't. If you haven't seen Michael Moore's film 'Sicko' please watch it. It will open your eyes to healthcare available to citizens in other countries, which you are being denied.

April 15, 2018 - 10:10am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for telling us this truth. It is a big one to swallow.

August 20, 2018 - 2:14pm
EmpowHER Guest

I've been without a thyroid gland for 26 years, and the creepy side effects of jitters, fatigue, and lack of concentrating are real. And even though this is one of the ailments that qualify for disability, you will be denied. I have other medical issues, but this one is the worst. Denied 4 times. I haven't worked in 6 years, and it looks like I may have to get my levothyroxine from abroad, without a prescription, since my husband is about to retire, and I will not have any insurance. My son, went to a doctor in Poland, way cheaper than America.

August 6, 2017 - 6:28am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Walmart has a list of medications that you can get for only $4 for one month if you get the 3 month supply it is $10 levothyroxine that's the generic for Synthroid is $4 not sure if you can get the name brand on the $4 list but the generic brand works fine it's much better than having nothing so I am on disability and I even get my meds at Walmart a lot of them for $4 each so get to Walmart and get that medication

October 17, 2017 - 4:28am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thanks! That will be helpful for many. I just found out I have a very low level of T-SHIRT at .05. Today is April 28 th, and I am scared out of my wits because my appt., with an Endocrinologist isn’t until July 31. Isn’t that a stretch?
Thanks to all who can give me some information that would ease my mind.

April 28, 2018 - 5:55am
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