Newswise — (New York, January 5, 2015) -- Thyroid disease affects approximately 200 million people worldwide, and if left undiagnosed and untreated it can cause conditions such depression, tremors, muscle weakness and constant fatigue. Experts at the Head and Neck Institute at Mount Sinai Health System encourage the general public to perform regular thyroid neck self-exams. “The thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that help the body regulate its metabolism. When not working properly it can cause the body’s system to speed up (hyperthyroidism) or slow down (hypothyroidism),” says Marita Teng, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Head and Neck Institute at Mount Sinai. “Furthermore, although the vast majority of thyroid nodules are benign, some can be cancerous and require examination and workup.” According to Dr. Teng, examining your neck can in some cases help you find lumps or enlargements that may point to thyroid conditions, including nodules, goiter and thyroid cancer. Because many symptoms of thyroid imbalance may be hard to recognize and can mimic other conditions, the best way to know for sure is to discuss with your doctor the role of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) testing, a simple blood test that measures whether your thyroid gland is functioning normally. Making sure that your thyroid gland is healthy is important to your body’s overall well-being. How to Perform a Thyroid Neck Self-Exam:• Use a mirror and focus on the lower middle area of your neck, above the collarbones, and below the Adam’s apple (larynx). Your thyroid gland is located in this area of your neck.• While focusing on this area in the mirror, tip your head back.• Take a drink of water and swallow.• 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.• 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 and should be checked to determine whether cancer is present or if treatment for thyroid disease is needed. Symptoms & Facts About Thyroid Disease• Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid and hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid.• Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are: rapid weight loss, high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia.• Symptoms of hypothyroidism are: weak or slow heartbeat; muscular weakness; constant fatigue; weight gain; depression; slow reflexes; sensitivity to cold; thick, puffy, or dry skin; slowed mental processes and poor memory; and constipation.• Goiter is another thyroid condition that causes a visibly enlarged thyroid gland, often causing difficulty swallowing or breathing.• Thyroid cancer, the fifth most common cancer in women, is the fastest growing number of new cases among all cancers in both men and women due to the increased detection.Expert Available for Interview:• Marita Teng, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Head and Neck Institute at Mount Sinai. About the Mount Sinai Health System The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven member hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care. The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians, 12-minority-owned free-standing ambulatory surgery centers, over 45 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island, as well as 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report.For more information, visit http://www.mountsinai.org, or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.