Total Thyroidectomy

Hi everyone, on the 17/11/2017 I was admitted to Manchester Royal infirmary for complete thyroid removal. On 19/11/2017 discharged from hospital. Put on 150micrograms ofLethothyroxine with follow up in 3 weeks time. After surgery the left vocal chord is swollen and since surgery I have had nothing but yoghurts, soups, thickened fluids for the first day and shepherds pie, my problems being that I have a constant irritation before during and after eating and drinking which is causing unnecessary coughing and in turn I is constantly bringing up phlegm from my chest, my potassium levels are ok, this coughing is caused by irritation on left side, same side as enlarged left vocal chord and is affecting my sleep. Getting to the point were I am thinking of staying on fluids and leaving food out for a while, just to give throat a rest.

23 Replies

Did the Dr.’s say why it was enlarged?


It will have been bruised or damaged during thyroidectomy.

Not at all, I complained to them when they visited me about the irritation, coughing, 1came back with camera, said only thing wrong was the left vocal chord was enlarged, he did say however that the nerve running down was not damaged so am happy about that. I see them for follow up in 3 weeks time.

Hi Herbal24 , the dr's didn't know till a camera was put down thru my nose . Didn't even give me any advice .


Coughing up phlegm is a good thing to get it off your chest. Try a spoonful of honey and a slice of lemon in hot water to soothe the irritation. Taking a second glass to bed with you and sipping it cold during the night soothes a ticklish irritation. If it persists ask your pharmacist for remedies or see your GP.

It can take a few weeks/months for the vocal chord damage to heal.

I am having cold yoghurts at home, fluids, but all keep causing irritation which in turn makes me cough and then sneeze. Had dissolvable strips done and hoping the coughing and sneezing doesn't make the wound open


Are you unable to eat solid foods?

Hi Clutter , for the 1st day I couldn't eat anything solid , throat was too sore so had yoghurts , soup and icecream which all helped. On the Saturday I had Weetabix I the morning , soup and then shepherds pie in the afternoon and in the evening I had same plus icecream , very much the same on the Sunday , even though this was soft food and easier to swallow it still irritated the left side of the throat .


I hope it is less sore now and you are able to eat without irritation.

Hi Clutter , to be honest it is still very sore so still having soft foods , the added problem for me is that the parotid glands either side of my face have packed up so constantly have a dry mouth which can make swallowing a chore . Got a feeling that my parotid glands may have to be removed due to constant swelling when eating and drinking, sure will be fun when that happens.


I had a blocked saliva gland and a salivary abcess years ago. It was like trying to chew cottonwool. Swishing my mouth with lemon juice before eating usually got enough saliva going to get through a meal.

Your sore throat will get better. I hope it doesn't take too long.

Clutter , I have had this problem with the parotid glands for a very long time now , well over a year , I can massage both but will only release a small amount of saliva then shut down . Have a apt in December to see what the next step will be.

I had many coughs and colds after TT.Staying off all dairy and yogurt for a time helps.You want clear up the cough of luck to you!

I used a product from my local health shop called Propolis. It is a kind of tincture from bees and is brilliant for the throat whenever it is irritated. You use a number of drops mixed in warm water and gargle or just swallow. It worked for me...

If your vocal cord has been damaged through your op, and it is swollen, I think that's the cause of the unexplained coughing,

Make sure you drink lots of liquid during the day to keep throat moist as that can help with irritation of your swollen vocal cord and coughing can cause more damage. It will take time for swollen vocal cord to return to normal.

It would be kinder for you to be referred to the Speech Therapy Dept so that someone who deals with issues of voice and vocal cord damage can help you recover your voice and may know what is best to help return your swollen vocal cord to normal as it has been damaged due to your op and it will take a while for it to repair itself and dont whisper as that can cause more damage. Extract:


Throat clearing


When you cough or clear your throat your

vocal cords come together with force. If this

happens repeatedly you can cause them to

become sore, causing voice changes and

producing more mucous. This can also

cause voice changes. This may have

developed into a habit. Instead of coughing

or clearing your throat drink water, swallow

hard, yawn, or suck a sugar free sweet

instead. This will help you to break the habit

Hello rjmwb2012, so sorry to hear about your thyroidectomy. I do remember having discomfort with food for a few weeks after. I hope you start to feel more comfortable soon. Soft foods and plenty of fluids are a good idea.

Hello Nanaedake, thank you for your response, I am going to see my gp today as hospital only gave me 1 weeks supply of thyroid medication. I am trying to drink as much fluid as possible now, my wife is going to get me lots of yoghurts today which is easier to swallow.

Hi there, I had a total thyroidectomy January this year and also had an awful cough. It is the trauma of the operation which is a very delicate procedure. It does take time but it will get better. I guess it took about 12 weeks or so for the cough to go completely. In fact I'd say that my vocal are only just back to normal although i still find certain high notes are difficult when i sing which is alittle frustrating.

I did avoid foods that could scratch my throat like toast or tough meet ie steak. Make sure you drink Plenty of fluids especially water. Lemon and honey is great. I also found ice cream helpful.

Hi Jazzylady, being new to this I am grateful for all the advice I get. This is something I did not anticipate so I am taking things slowly ( baby steps).

Hi - I had my thyroid out in 2010 due to Graves Disease and after being kept in hospital for 2 days (the consultant wanted to see if any adverse effects on vocal cord and parathyroid, calcium, potassium etc) I was discharged and given 150mcg of Levo. I also had swelling on my vocal cords and bruised nerve. I also had coughing and phlegm (but this was due to getting over a cold before I went into the hospital - surgery or rather the anesthetic can exacerbate underlying cold/chest infections that you may not even realise that you have). I woke up coughing from my surgery. vocal cord nerve was damage meaning that the octive or range in my voice is diminished - no more thinking I can sing like Mariah Carey in the car but other than that I am fine. I remained in contact with my GP and consultant on the swelling and I took manuka honey (NOT ordinary honey) and lemon 4 times per day for 3 weeks. I have always been advised to stay away from all diary for chest infections and general gloopy colds etc. Swelling went away. However from time to time I have felt a swelling around that area (almost goiter like) and went straight to GP to get seen to - one always has a tendancy to think the worst but turned on each occasion to be nothing. I still make a point of getting it checked though.

Hi ST1974, after I had my operation and back on the ward I heard the dr's talking about my case and heard them mention Graves Disease , but they never told me directly , all they said was that the operation went well , they avoided damaging the nerve that runs down which was a relief, but did say my thyroid was swollen , did not tell me why it was swollen or the possible cause , I have a pretty good idea why I had the thyroids removed though . I have a medical condition which is very rare called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis Coli . This causes hundreds to thousands of polyps forming anywhere in the body , if left untreated cancer is inevitable by the age of 40 , well I was lucky cos I was well over 40 when I was told I tested positive for this . So far I have had to have my large bowel removed in 2013, March this year had surgery to remove a tumour from below the right shoulder blade which was unsuccessful , and now just had my thyroids removed due to having nodules on them. For me this is a very long road which I have to follow . Wish they had put some road lights on though cos can't see a

Before I had my surgery I ordered in lots of organic baby food and stayed on these for about 10 days. They are easy to eat and digest.

It took me months to be able to swallow normally and I still can't eat my raw carrots that I have eaten nearly all my life they just won't go down. This after two years.

What about soups and mashed potatoes?

I hope that you are feeling much better soon.

I am so sad to read all these comments. I had a thyroidectomy but no problems afterwards of vocal cords. It all depends on how good the surgeon was. Unfortunately, lots of them seem to be bad ones around here. Good luck with ice cream, fruit purée and yogurts. You have liquid food for athletes too that you could consider.

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