The thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, is a critical piece of one’s overall health. This small but highly integrated system produces hormones that influence nearly every part of the body. When functioning properly the thyroid keeps one’s metabolism balanced while also maintaining healthy function of important organs such as the brain, kidneys, liver, and heart.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that 15 million Americans are living with an undiagnosed thyroid issue. A malfunctioning thyroid caused by hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ Disease, and thyroid cancer are incredibly impactful on one’s overall health. The impressive number of people who are unaware of their condition have an increased risk of serious health conditions simply due to ignorance of their thyroid problem.
One of the great difficulties of a thyroid condition is that it is difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms caused by a thyroid malfunction are associated with numerous other conditions. This commonly leads to misdiagnosis or simply dismissing symptoms as a normal cost of living. Sadly, this causes many to continue on without knowing that their thyroid is not working as intended.
Some of the most common symptoms of thyroid malfunction include:
- Weight Fluctuations
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Brain fog/cognitive difficulties
- Poor sleep quality
- Brittle hair and nails
- Shortness of breath
- Thinning hair
- Poor temperature management
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
- Reduced sex drive
Many of the above symptoms are experienced by people on a regular basis. Because of common occurrence and relatively manageable impact of these symptoms, people often overlook and discount them as signifiers of a more severe condition.
If you experience any of the above symptoms and believe you may have a malfunctioning thyroid, there is another way to validate the presence of a thyroid issue. Abnormal lumps and enlargements found in the neck or around the thyroid can indicate the presence of a thyroid condition. An enlarged thyroid suggests that it is either producing excessive or inadequate amounts of hormones. Being able to recognize the presence of a thyroid condition is greatly beneficial in getting properly diagnosed and treated. One of the best ways to take control of one’s thyroid health is to be aware of one’s own condition through regular self-examination.
Step by Step Thyroid Neck Check
The following procedure outlines a simple and effective way to check your thyroid and help you decide if you need to get assistance from a medical professional.
What you will need:
- A mirror
- A glass of water
1 – Look in the Mirror
Position yourself in front of the mirror in a way that lets you clearly view your neck. Remove any sort of clothing or apparel that covers or obscures your neck such as: scarves, ties, sweaters, collars, jewelry etc.
2 – Stretch your Neck
While still maintaining view of your neck, tilt your head back so that your chin is pointing upwards and your nose is directed towards the ceiling.
3 – Drink some Water
Continue holding the stretched neck position, take a drink of water and swallow.
4 – Watch your Neck for Enlargement
While swallowing the water look for any sort of bulging, protrusions, or lumps that appear. Your primary area of concern should be around the thyroid gland located closer to the collar bone. Do not be tricked by the natural bulge of the Adam’s apple located in the mid-neck area. (Repeat as many times as you feel is necessary)
5 – Inspect your Neck with your Hands
Feel around the thyroid with your hands. Even if you do not see any protrusions it is important to follow up with physical touch, which can uncover hard to see abnormalities. (Repeat as many times as you feel is necessary)
6 – Consult a Physician if a Problem is Detected
If there are any abnormal bulges, protrusions, or lumps detected seek medical assistance from your physician or thyroid specialist. The presence of such anomalies could indicate an enlarged thyroid gland or nodule. Both should be inspected by someone properly trained in thyroid health to gauge whether further action needs to be taken.
The first step in treating a thyroid condition is being aware of it. Taking responsibility for one’s own health and implementing the appropriate steps to recognize the presence of thyroid malfunction is important for one’s well-being. Regularly utilizing the Thyroid Neck Check will help keep you aware of the condition of your thyroid. If there are any anomalies, such as bumps, bulges, or protrusions get a medical opinion to inform you about treatment options. Support your body by being informed and staying vigilant regarding thyroid function.