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You may experience a sore throat following thyroidectomy and should stick to a soft diet while you recover.

If you have been referred for a thyroidectomy procedure, you may be wondering what to expect from the recovery period. You will likely have a sore throat after surgery, in which case you might find it painful to swallow. Read on to find out what you should eat to aid the recovery process and how to minimise your discomfort while you heal…

Why is thyroidectomy performed?

Thyroid surgery is most often recommended when nodules or tumours are identified on the thyroid gland. Although most nodules are benign, even these can cause issues if they become big enough to obstruct the throat.

Thyroid surgery is often performed as a treatment for hyperthyroidism, a condition which results in an overproduction of hormones. Surgery may also be recommended when the thyroid gland is enlarged. Known as a goiter, an enlarged thyroid gland can obstruct the throat and affect one’s ability to eat, speak and breathe.  

What does the procedure involve?

In the case of a total thyroidectomy, the entire thyroid and thyroid tissue is removed. This procedure is often recommended when thyroid nodules or inflammation is affecting the ensure thyroid gland. It is also sometimes the treatment of choice for thyroid cancer.

When it is not necessary to remove the entire thyroid gland, a procedure known as subtotal thyroidectomy may be an appropriate treatment. During this procedure, the thyroid gland is removed and a small amount of thyroid tissue is left behind in order to preserve some thyroid function.

If you are a suitable candidate for thyroid surgery, your surgeon will let you know which type of procedure is most appropriate for you. The procedure that suits you best will depend on your particular diagnosis and symptoms.

What can you expect after surgery?

Once your surgery is complete, you will need to avoid strenuous exercise for some time — your surgeon will let you know when you can resume your normal routine. You should, however, be able to resume most of your day-to-day activities a day or two after surgery. It is completely normal to have a sore throat for a few days following the procedure, and you might find it uncomfortable to swallow. For this reason, your surgeon may recommend that you take some over-the-counter pain medications to ease any soreness.

It is also advisable that you eat a liquid and soft diet during the recovery period as this will minimise discomfort when swallowing. Begin with cold beverages and ice cream to soothe your throat after surgery, and then try and incorporate soft foods like yoghurt, stewed fruit, mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs. Try to eat plenty of nutritious foods during this time, and drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and to aid the recovery process.

Avoid hard foods that can scratch your throat — these include crunchy chips and crackers, as well as raw vegetables. Acidic foods and drinks tend to irritate the throat during the recovery period and are best avoided — stay away from citrus fruit and tomato juices, for example.

How can we help?

Dr Navin Niles is an accomplished endocrine and head and neck surgeon specialising in thyroid parathyroid, adrenal and salivary gland surgery. He offers a number of speciality procedures, including thyroidectomy to remove the thyroid lobes. If you have been referred for thyroidectomy because of thyroid cancer, obstructive symptoms, overactive thyroid or cosmetic disfigurement, we encourage you to arrange your initial consultation so that Dr Niles can get to know you and explain the treatment process to you in detail. To find out more about thyroidectomy and what the procedure involves, please have a look here.

Besides thyroidectomy, Dr Niles also offers a range of other treatments. These include hemithyroidectomy, parathyroidectomy, and parotidectomy. Dr Niles and his team are all highly experienced and dedicated to providing top-quality care.

To book an appointment, please contact us here or give us a call on (02) 9810 9839.