Most of us are aware of the need to do a breast self-exam each month, but did you know you should also do a thyroid self-exam? This easy neck exam can help you identify thyroid issues such as thyroid cancer, cysts, nodules or goiter early and the self-exam only takes about 60 seconds to do.
Your thyroid is on your neck just below your Adam’s apple and above your collarbones, and spreads across your neck like a butterfly.
Here’s how you do a thyroid self-exam:
- Stand in front of a mirror, or hold a mirror so you can see your lower neck.
- Tip your head back and take a drink of water and swallow.
- As you swallow, look at your neck and check for any bulges or protrusions in the area where you swallow. Remember, don’t confuse your Adam’s apple with the thyroid.
- Next, using your hands, slowly feel the area over your thyroid and see if there are any lumps or bulges. You can do this with or without a mirror.
- If you find any lumps or bulges, make an appointment with your practitioner.
Thyroid nodules are usually round and will move with the gland when you swallow. You might also be able to feel the nodule rolling underneath your fingers or see it when you swallow. Thyroid nodules can come and go, so don’t panic, but it is important to make an appointment with your practitioner.
Goiter will feel like swelling or a bulge. Sometimes it’s on just one side of the thyroid, but it can also be felt on both sides.
It’s good to keep in mind that finding a lump or nodule does not always mean you have a serious issue with your thyroid.
Here are some at-home therapies you can talk to your practitioner about for thyroid nodules, cysts and goiter:
- We’ve found in our practice that iodine is very helpful for almost all thyroid issues, but it’s important to take a look at your TSH and T4 levels before deciding how much iodine to take. Getting 3-4 servings of sea vegetables, wild seafood, pastured eggs, and fish are great natural sources of iodine. If you’re concerned about eating iodine-rich foods or taking an iodine supplement when you have thyroid disease, read this article.
- Use unrefined Celtic sea salt in your cooking throughout the day because it contains over 80 different minerals that are nourishing to the thyroid.
- Stay away from all processed foods and eat a nutrient-dense diet. Click here for lots of recipes!
- Avoid bromines found in breads, pasta, refined cereals, pool treatments and pesticides. Bromine interferes with the utilization of iodine in the body and will compete with iodine receptors, displacing the iodine.
- Castor oil packs done for 10-15 minutes over the thyroid daily can have a profound effect on cysts, nodules and goiter. One of my clients came to me last year with a thyroid cyst that was documented by her doctor, so she was diligent with her diet, took the proper amount of iodine supplementation for her body and did daily castor oil packs. When she went back for her follow-up appointment, the doctor was happy to inform her that the cyst had shrunk!If you would like to do castor oil packs over the thyroid, I highly recommend you first do them over the liver daily for 3-4 weeks first, and then try doing a pack over the thyroid for 10-15 minutes at time. If you get any kind of rash or your neck starts to itch, this is a sign that you liver still needs some detox. So, do the castor oil packs over the liver for an additional 3-4 weeks and then try again over the thyroid.