A mysterious lump on your body can scare anyone. If you have noticed a strange lump forming on your neck, then call your doctor. There are various issues that can cause a lump on your neck such as thyroid nodules, autoimmune conditions or cancer.
In this article, we will discuss what to do if you notice a mysterious lump in your neck. We will expand more specifically on thyroid nodules, as this can be quite common. As always, however, make sure to see a doctor to discuss health concerns.
What does the thyroid do?
The thyroid is a small but mighty organ in the lower neck. Its shape resembles that of a butterfly. Your thyroid secretes hormones that play a role in growth, development, metabolism and body temperature. When there is an abnormality in your thyroid, your hormones can be altered and/or you can become very sick. Some thyroid conditions like thyroid nodules, however, can cause little to no harm.
What are thyroid nodules?
Thyroid nodules are small masses that develop on the thyroid. Luckily, most thyroid nodules are benign, meaning that they are non-cancerous. Depending on the type of thyroid nodule, however, you may have certain effects. Some nodules excrete excess hormones that can lead to weight loss, nervousness, irregular heartbeat or excessive sweating (1).
How to Shrink Thyroid Nodules
Now that you have some information about what the thyroid is and what it does for your body, you can now focus on managing thyroid-related issues with your healthcare team. Here are several tips on how you can monitor, manage and analyze the status of your thyroid nodules and the symptoms you may experience.
Tip #1: See your doctor
If you notice any changes, lumps, bumps or strange swelling in your neck region, make an appointment with your doctor. Many people do not notice changes on themselves, however, family members or friends may notice a change in your appearance.
Instead of jumping straight to Google and worrying yourself, schedule an appointment to get checked by your doctor. Some lumps and bumps are benign and others are malignant. Don’t be surprised if your doctor checks you for throat or neck cancers. This is often done as a precaution.
Tip #2: Continue to follow-up and monitor changes
Your doctor will help you create a follow-up plan to monitor changes in your thyroid nodules. Depending on the size, location or potential issues associated with your thyroid nodules, your doctor may recommend anything from following up in several months to surgery.
Regardless of what your doctor recommends, make sure to keep a close eye on how and if your nodules change. We recommend taking regular measurements of visible nodules by using this tape measure. Make sure to measure several locations on the nodule to track the border and shape.
Tip #3: Take medications as prescribed
There are certain medications that can remedy thyroid issues and their side effects, so make sure that you take the medication that your doctor recommends. We recommend that you organize your medications with this monthly pill organizer. It also has reminders to take your medicine!
Taking your medications regularly and consistently can help you manage hormonal fluctuations and help your doctor analyze what is working and what is not.
Tip #4: Make sure you are getting the proper nutrients for thyroid conditions
Regardless if you have thyroid nodules or other thyroid-related conditions, you may need to supplement your diet with certain nutrients. Talk to your doctor to determine if you need supplementation of any of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
Tip #5: Manage your weight via nutrition
In some cases, thyroid nodules can excrete excess hormones that can lead to weight loss. If you have experienced unintentional weight loss, talk to a registered dietitian about how to increase your calorie intake. Here are some ways to increase your calorie intake if you need to gain weight:
- Eat several snacks during the day.
- Eat every few hours to get more calories.
- Choose high calorie foods like avocado, full fat dairy or nuts.
- Eat nut butter when you consume fruit.
- Ask your registered dietitian about consuming high calorie nutritional drinks if you are having trouble meeting your calorie needs for weight gain. Talk to your registered dietitian to see if Ensure supplement shakes are a good option for you.
- If you are vegan, check out how you can gain weight on a vegan diet.
Tip #6: Exercise regularly
Thyroid issues can cause your weight to fluctuate up and down (and make it hard to change your weight as you want). With that being said, implementing a regular exercise regimen may be a good idea for you. Strive to implement an exercise regimen that can help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight and keep you strong.