January Is Thyroid Awareness Month
The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck and under the voice box. It produces hormones that help the body control the rate of metabolism and regulate the production and consumption of energy. When thyroid function is accelerated, the condition is called hyperthyroidism; when slowed, it is called hypothyroidism. Imbalances in thyroid function may be a result of environmental, autoimmune, or genetic factors. Additionally, thyroid issues may lead to cancer.
Thyroid disease affects roughly 200 million people worldwide, and thyroid cancer is on the rise, with roughly 52,000 new cases diagnosed in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society. Three out of four thyroid cancer diagnoses are made in women.
How to Perform a Thyroid Neck Self-Exam
- Use a mirror and focus on the lower middle area of your neck, above the collarbones and below the Adam’s apple (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: Do not 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 and should be checked to determine whether cancer is present or if treatment for thyroid disease is needed.
More information can be found through the American Thyroid Association, www.thyroid.org