January is Thyroid Awareness Month
Why is the month of January set aside to bring awareness to a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck?
Most people don’t know anything about their thyroid gland–including where it is. But when your thyroid doesn’t work right, neither do you. The hormones it produces affect every cell in the body.
Around 200 million people throughout the world have a thyroid disease. These include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and cancer.
The thyroid gland is located below the larynx (also called Adam’s Apple or voice box) and above the collarbone. Here is a detailed step-by-step description of how to examine your thyroid gland (courtesy of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology).
To do this you need a mirror and a glass of water.
1. Hold the mirror in your hand, focusing 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.”
Below is an infographic created by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology describing the importance of the thyroid throughout life.