How to Palpate Your Thyroid Gland

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The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the neck. It one of the endocrine glands responsible for regulating many metabolic functions in the body, including: body temperature, body weight, and digestion. The function of every cell in the body depends on the hormones produced by the thyroid. Palpating the thyroid is one way to ensure that there are no irregularities, which may be a sign of a metabolic disorder or cancer.

How to Palpate Your Thyroid Gland
(Heather Milward/Demand Media)
Step 1

Gently extend your neck while looking upward.

Heather Milward/Demand Media
Step 2

Locate the Adam's apple, which is the protruding piece of cartilage on the mid-line of the neck. If you cannot find your Adam's apple, then locate halfway between the jaw line and shoulder blade.

Heather Milward/Demand Media
Step 3

Place the fingers of both hands down two cartilage rings below the Adam's apple (about an inch downward) and along the sides of the windpipe. The cartilage feels like a raised and hard ring under the skin.

Heather Milward/Demand Media
Step 4

Swallow. Take a sip of water if need be. The thyroid should rise underneath your fingers as you swallow. You should feel the over the entire thyroid, noting any changes in consistency, size, nodules or tenderness. A normal thyroid should be symmetrica. An enlarged thyroid can often be seen as well as felt. If there are any inconsistencies that you are worried about, consult your physician for a more detailed exam.

Heather Milward/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • A normal thyroid is often not palpable.
  • Consult your physician if your thyroid is enlarged, tender or has nodules.

References

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