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A woman in her thirties, long brown hair looking in the mirror to do a thyroid self-exam.

5 Simple Steps for Performing Regular Thyroid Check Self-Exams

What does your thyroid do? Ask your friends, family, and colleagues what they know, chances are they’ll know they have one, but have no clue what it does, and why it is so important to their health. 

The lack of awareness about the existence of our thyroid gland is alarming since an estimated 15 million Americans currently have undiagnosed thyroid problems.

Ensuring our thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly is important to our overall well-being.

Why is the Thyroid Gland Important?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of our neck just below the Adam’s apple and plays a significant role in regulating fundamental body functions such as:

  • Heart rate
  • Breathing
  • Body weight muscle strength 
  • Menstrual cycles
  • Central and peripheral nervous systems   
  • Body temperature
  • Cholesterol levels

Performing a 5-Step Thyroid Neck Check Self-Exam

AACE Thyroid Awareness provides an online step-by-step guide to performing your own thyroid neck check at home.

All you will need is:

  • A mirror
  • Glass of water
  1. While looking close up to the mirror, focus 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, tip your head back.
  3. Take a drink of water and swallow.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

For additional information on how to take a thyroid neck self-exam at home, click here.

7 Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Your Thyroid Health

What to ask your Doctor:

  1. Where is my thyroid, and what does it do?
  2. What is the difference between hypothyroid and hyperthyroid and what symptoms should I be watching out for?
  3. What is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), and what should my target number be?
  4. What else besides TSH levels are important for making sure my thyroid condition is regulated?
  5. What is Hashimoto's Disease?
  6. What is Graves Disease?
  7. What are more and more people being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and should I be checked for it?

If your doctor prescribes thyroid medication for your condition here are some necessary questions to ask your pharmacist:

5 Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist about Your Thyroid Medication

What to ask your pharmacist:

  1. What is the difference between a generic thyroid pill and a brand name thyroid hormone pill?
  2. Will you notify me before switching my thyroid medicine from the brand name I normally use to a generic?
  3. What time of day is best to take my thyroid hormone pill?
  4. May I take my thyroid medication with food, other medications, vitamins, or supplements?
  5. Can any of my other medications affect my thyroid?

How can MedicAlert help you stay proactive about your health? Well, we got you covered. 

What is MedicAlert?  It’s not just a medical ID. MedicAlert is peace of mind, knowing that if your loved one falls or has a medical emergency, MedicAlert Foundation has their back – and yours. With a MedicAlert ID and membership, your loved one’s medical history and emergency information is stored, safe and secure, in their MedicAlert profile.

How does it work? Emergency response teams are trained to look for a MedicAlert ID. Should your loved one have an emergency, accessing the MedicAlert ID number on the member’s bracelet, necklace or tag will connect first responders to MedicAlert’s 24/7 MedicAlert Emergency Response Team. In an emergency, they will relay your loved one’s complete medical history including all medications, a list of emergency contacts, providing first responders with a detailed health record and action plan.