Home Care after Thyroidectomy
What to Expect
After surgery you can expect to have an incision and a drainage tube at the base of your neck. The drainage may look blood-tinged to yellowish straw-colored. The drainage tube may be removed the next day. You may notice drainage from the drain site for the next day or two.
You may also have some pain. For relief, use your prescribed pain medicine. Although you should be able to eat and drink as before, it may hurt to swallow. You may want to take your pain medicine 30 minutes before eating to help reduce the pain.
You should take about 1 week off work. Restrict your activities for about 1 week. Avoid strenuous exercise such as jogging, aerobics, swimming, or lifting over 10-20 pounds.
Keep your head raised while sleeping by using 2-3 pillows for 1 week.
Sometimes, the parathyroid glands will not work as a result of the surgery. These four delicate glands are attached to the thyroid. The parathyroid glands control calcium levels. When these glands don’t work, calcium levels are lowered. Patients may need calcium supplements on a temporary basis. In Rarely, calcium and vitamin D may be needed on a permanent basis.
When to Call the Doctor
If you have trouble breathing, go to the nearest Emergency Room or call 911.
Call the doctor if you notice:
- Coughing when swallowing liquids or solids
- Signs and symptoms of infection
- Fever over 100.5° F by mouth for 24 hours
- Swelling, tenderness, warmth at the site
- Pus-like drainage
- Signs and symptoms of low blood calcium
- Numbness or tingling on your face or lips
- Facial paralysis
If you have any questions or problems once you are home, please call
ENT Clinic, Monday – Friday from 8:00 to 5:00 at (608) 263-6190.
After hours, nights and weekends, please call (608) 262-0486. This will give you the paging operator. Ask for the ENT doctor on call. Give the operator your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7093.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 10/08/2010
Copyright © 09/17/2010 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5735
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