How to Check Your Thyroid

As a naturopathic doctor, I believe in helping my patients become more self-aware of their bodies. So often, we become too busy and distracted to notice subtle but important symptoms our body may be sending us to signal something is wrong.

With Thyroid cancer rates rapidly increasing, understanding how to examine your thyroid could save your life. Click here to see how Tarek El Moussa from the hit show Flip or Flop was saved by a complete stranger watching the show who noticed subtle changes in the star's neck that ultimately led to his thyroid cancer diagnosis and treatment.

If you suspect an issue or change in your thyroid, schedule an appointment with your physician immediately.

Already have hyperthyroidism (high thyroid function) or hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)? Make sure you are getting regular thyroid ultrasounds to monitor your thyroid effectively.

Interested in getting a comprehensive evaluation of your thyroid? Click here to schedule your next consultation with me, Dr. Zen

In health and Happiness,
Dr. Zen

How To Check Your Thyroid

When it comes to checking your thyroid there are a few things you need to know.

Q: How Often Should I Check My Thyroid?
A: I always recommend my patients check their thyroid monthly. It is easiest to remember if you perform this at the same time as your monthly self-breast exams. Try to perform it on the same day every month as hormones fluctuate throughout the month.

Q: Where is my thyroid exactly and what am I looking for?
A: The thyroid is the butterfly shaped gland found in the front part of your neck. It is located between your Adam's Apple and the top of your sternum. It however extends out to the sides of your neck until it reaches your side neck muscles known as the SCM (sternocleidomastoid muscles). You can easily find these muscles by turning your neck from side to side. It's important to note that you should typically not feel your thyroid at all. If you do feel your thyroid this can mean something is wrong.

Q: Now that I know where my thyroid is, how should I examine it?
A: You will want to use your hands to palpate/ touch your thyroid. You will want to move your hands along your thyroid starting in the middle and working your way out towards those side neck muscles. Make sure you are overlapping your hands so you do not miss any spots. Now remember there are a few things that are normal, for example, you may feel some muscle tissue, or may notice a few small soft lymph nodes towards the top of your neck, however if you notice any specific lumps or bumps or tenderness that wasn't previously there, make sure to share that with your physician and let them perform a thyroid exam to further investigate what you felt.

Q: Now that I have touched my thyroid, is that it?
A: There is one additional step I recommend my patients complete during their monthly thyroid exam. This is known as the Water Test. Make sure you get a glass of water and are close to a mirror. The water test involves watching your neck while you swallow. Swallowing water naturally moves your esophagus and trachea in a way that pushes the cartilage around the thyroid out more allowing you to further investigate the thyroid. It will also make any lumps or bumps become more obvious when you drink water.

Pretty easy, right? So now that you know how to perform a thyroid self exam, I challenge you to teach a loved one how to perform it as well.