January is Thyroid Awareness Month

Thyroid disease, which if left untreated can cause sudden depression, weight gain, muscle weakness, constant fatigue, or tremors, affects over 200 million people around the world and this number is on the rise.

Located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple, the thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that has an essential role regulating the metabolic functions of every cell in the human body. Some of the most important organs such as the heart, liver, brain, kidneys and skin are influenced by the thyroid gland so it is important to make sure it is healthy.

To help detect thyroid disease early, here is a step-by-step neck check guide provided by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE):

  • Hold the mirror in your hand, focusing on the lower front area of your neck, above the collarbones, and below the voice box (larynx). Your thyroid gland is located in this area of your neck.
  • While focusing on this area in the mirror, tip your head back.
  • Take a drink of water and swallow.
  • As you swallow, look at your neck. Check for any bulges or protrusions in this area when you swallow. Reminder: Don’t confuse the Adam’s apple with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located further down on your neck, closer to the collarbone. You may want to repeat this process several times.
  • If you do see any bulges or protrusions in this area, see your physician. You may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule that should be checked to determine whether further evaluation is needed.

Just remember, a few minutes at home could save your life.