Is your thyroid something you know exists but know very little about? Let’s change that. The thyroid gland lives in your neck and produces hormones that help you regular your body’s metabolism. This makes it quite important. Thyroid disease affects approximately 200 million people around the world. You care about this because abnormalities of the thyroid gland can cause real problems and deadly disease. Let’s take a brief look at four types of abnormalities.
Goiters are something you may know of if you’re of a certain age. It’s a condition notable for the presence of a visibly enlarged thyroid gland
- Goiters frequently cause difficulty swallowing or breathing.
Hyperthyroidism is a disease resulting from an overactive thyroid
- Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are: rapid weight loss, high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia.
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid.
- Symptoms of hypothyroidism are: weak or slow heartbeat; muscular weakness; constant fatigue; weight gain; depression; slow reflexes; sensitivity to cold; thick, puffy, or dry skin; slowed mental processes and poor memory; and constipation.
Thyroid cancer has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases diagnosed due to increased detection. Of course, early detection and treatment is a good thing for prognosis.
All of these conditions can be discovered if you learn to examine your neck. 15-30 seconds can often help you discover lumps, nodules, goiters and cancers that will signal an immediate need for assessment, confirmation and treatment by a physician. Given the relatively non-specific nature of symptoms related to the thyroid, your role in discovering thyroid disease is an important one. As is the case with other self-exams (e.g. breast, testicles), you will become more familiar with your anatomy and will be most likely to pick up on any changes with repeated exams.
Performing a Neck (Thyroid) Self-Exam:
- Grab a mirror, and tip your head back. Your area of interest is the middle area of your neck. Your thyroid gland is located above your collarbones and below the Adam’s apple (larynx).
- Take a drink of water and slowly swallow.
- As you swallow, check your neck for any bulges, lumps or protrusions. You may want to repeat this process several times.
- If you discover any abnormalities, see your physician. You may need to checked for thyroid disease.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
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