How to Perform a Thyroid “Neck Check” Self-Exam

May 19 • 2016

Did you know that almost 15 million people in the United States alone have an undiagnosed thyroid issue? Your thyroid helps your body regulate metabolism, so an over- or underactive thyroid gland can cause a variety of issues.

Symptoms of Thyroid Issues

If your thyroid is not releasing enough hormones, this is called hypothyroidism. Symptoms include:

  • Weight gain
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Depression
  • Memory issues
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Puffy or dry skin

In contrast, hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid releases too much hormone into your body. This causes symptoms like:

  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Quickened heartbeat
  • Diarrhea

6 Steps for Examining Your Thyroid

Being aware of these symptoms and performing regular thyroid self-exams in your home can help you identify any problems as quickly as possible. Giving yourself an exam is easy – all you need is a small mirror and a glass of water.

  1. Hold the mirror in your hand and take a close look at the front of your neck. Your thyroid gland is located between the collarbone and the larynx.
  2. Tip your head back while still keeping your eye on this area of your neck.
  3. Swallow a drink of water.
  4. Look at your neck closely while you are swallowing to identify anything unusual in the area, like a bump or protrusion.
  5. Repeat the process several times for the most accurate examination.
  6. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, speak with your doctor to get your thyroid checked.

Men – note that the Adam’s apple is higher on your neck than your thyroid. You’ll want to look closer to your collarbone to avoid any confusion.

If you have additional questions about your thyroid health or how to perform a “neck check” self-exam, speak with your doctor for personalized recommendations.

If you need a physician, visit our Find a Doctor page.