How Can I Check My Thyroid at Home?

Reviewed on 4/15/2022
Man holding his throat and checking his thyroid with his hand
Checking your thyroid at home with a neck self-exam can help to detect lumps or enlargements in the neck that may indicate a potential thyroid condition.

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) occurs when a person produces insufficient amounts of thyroid hormone. The opposite of hypothyroidism is hyperthyroidism (also called overactive thyroid), a condition in which the body produces too much thyroid hormone and increases the body’s metabolism. 

You can check your thyroid at home with a neck self-exam to help with early detection and check for lumps or enlargements in the neck that may indicate a potential thyroid condition. 

You will need:

  • A handheld mirror
  • A glass of water

How to do a thyroid neck check: 

  1. Hold the mirror in your hand, looking at the lower front area of the neck, above the collarbones, and below the voice box. The thyroid gland is located in this area of the neck. 
    • Don’t confuse the Adam’s apple with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located further down on the neck, closer to the collarbone. 
  2. While focusing on this area in the mirror, tip your head back.
  3. Take a sip of water and swallow. 
  4. While swallowing, check the neck for any bulges or protrusions in this area while swallowing. 
  5. If you see any bulges or protrusions in this area, see your doctor.
    • This may be a sign of an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule and it needs to be checked to determine if treatment for thyroid disease is needed or if thyroid cancer is present.

What Is the Thyroid and What Does It Do?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located below the Adam's apple in the lower part of the neck that wraps around the windpipe (trachea). 

The thyroid plays a role in a number of bodily functions, including: 

  • Metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, electrolytes, and water
  • Metabolic rate (oxygen consumption)
  • Growth and development
  • Resistance to infection
  • Maintaining bone health
  • Maintaining muscle control
  • Vitamin requirements
  • Preserving brain function and development
  • Maintaining heart and digestive functions
  • Reproduction

What Are Symptoms of Thyroid Problems?

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) may include:

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) may not cause any symptoms. When symptoms of hyperthyroidism occur, they may include:

Lumps or nodules on the neck may be a sign of thyroid cancer. See a doctor if you notice a lump on the neck.

How Are Thyroid Problems Diagnosed?

A doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical examination. Tests used to diagnose thyroid problems include: 

  • Blood tests:
    • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
    • Thyroxine (T4)
    • Triiodothyronine (T3)
    • Thyroid antibody tests
  • Thyroid scan 
  • Imaging tests 
  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy
Reviewed on 4/15/2022
Image Source: iStock Images,drink%20of%20water%20and%20swallow.