Nearly 15 million Americans have undiagnosed thyroid problems. It's important to understand that early detection is key to treating your thyroid condition.
What Is Your Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower front of the neck, above the collarbones, and below the voice box. Your thyroid gland makes hormones that help control the function of many of your body's organs, including your heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and skin. The health of your thyroid gland determines your overall health and well-being.
What Are Thyroid Problems?
Thyroid disorders can range from small to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production is known as hypothyroidism.
What Are the Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)?
- Frequent bowel movements
- Difficulty sleeping
- Eyes that protrude out
- Hair changes – brittle, thin, hair loss
- Irregular heart beat
- Muscle weakness
- Rapid finger nail growth
- Shaky hands
- Unexplained weight loss
- Thinning skin
What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)?
- Unexplainable weight gain
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Puffy face
- Hoarseness in the voice
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in the joints
- Thinning of the hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Heavier than normal menstrual periods
- Impaired memory
A simple at-home self-exam can assist in determining a possible thyroid condition. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform the self-exam.
How to Take the Thyroid Neck Check
1.Hold a handheld 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.
2.While focusing on this area in the mirror, tilt your head back.
3.Take a drink of water while tilting your head back and swallow.
4.While you swallow, take a look at your neck. Check for bulges or protrusions in this area when you swallow. Don't confuse the Adam's apple with the thyroid gland! You may want to repeat this several times.
5.If you do see any bulges or protrusions, see your physician immediately. You may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule that should be checked out.
The best way to determine if you have a thyroid condition is to consult your physician as soon as possible. Your doctor may conduct a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test, a simple blood test that measures whether your thyroid gland is functioning normally or not.
Get your thyroids checked and use our Physician Finder to search for a Community Care Physicians primary care doctor near you.
AACE Thyroid Awareness