It’s estimated that 59 million Americans have a thyroid problem, but the majority don’t even know it yet. The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, is the master gland of metabolism. When your thyroid doesn’t function, it can affect every aspect of your health, and in particular, weight, depression and energy levels.

In that undiagnosed thyroid problems can dramatically increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, anxiety, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, infertility and a host of other symptoms and health problems, it’s important that you don’t go undiagnosed.

In Functional Medicine we look for answers to why there might be an imbalance in the messaging system of your thyroid. We also often read the blood work results very differently from your primary care physician. A good percentage of weight loss patients, mood disorder patients and immune compromised patients who present for care in my office have a slow functioning thyroid gland that is not yet bad enough to be considered treatable by the current standard medical guidelines. Sadly, this can leave you sluggish and sick for years until your body catches up with an antiquated medical reference range.

Pittsburgh, PA is in the Thyroid belt. We have very low selenium in the soil, an essential nutrient for the thyroid gland to function. With our constant low level of sunshine we also suffer from Vitamin D3 deficiency and that can also affect thyroid function.

There are a number tests that we use in the functional nutrition field to identify problems that may not be viewed as pathology by the medical profession. I specialize in working with the functional changes in your thyroid chemistry to correct the cause of the symptoms and remove the root of the disorder. For the thyroid gland there are a number of changes in body temperature and the blood work that can clue us into the problems.

In working with a Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutritionist you will hear the word “functional” quite a bit. What we are referring to is that not all problems show up in your blood work and there may be a more subtle change in your system that is not bad enough to raise the red flags for your medical doctor. The symptoms and presentation of an undiagnosed thyroid problem are a perfect example.

Common symptoms associated with an un-balanced thyroid are: Muscle and joint pain, tendonitis problems, swelling in the front of the neck or trouble swallowing, constipation, cold all of the time or hot all of the time, hair and nails are weak or thin, skin can become dry, menstrual irregularities, infertility, depression or anxiety, cholesterol issues, inability to lose weight and fatigue.

Slow functioning thyroid can also be caused by an auto-immune condition called Hashimotos Thyroiditis. In Functional Medicine this condition is not treated the same way that hypothyroid is, though they both share many of the same symptoms. Hashimotos is reversible and so are many of the symptoms. It is very important to differentiate between the two conditions so when you present for care in my office for thyroid evaluation, we will look at TSH, free T4, free T3, Reverse T3 and antibodies for Auto-Immune thyroid. Not only is the proper diet for Thyroid Disorders imperative but a very thorough evaluation of all of the hormones and their interaction is required. Expect a comprehensive overview in my office.

It is important to note that when your medical history and health related goals are explored, your consultations are held directly with Dr. Shaw, not an untrained individual, a staff member, a questionnaire or a computer program. You will not be signing up for a “program” and paying money up front for services not yet rendered. Your health care journey in our office is unique to your specific needs.

I look forward to working directly with you to help identify and correct the cause of your Thyroid issues. — Dr. Conan Shaw  Functional Medicine, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Pittsburgh PA

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