Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings South Central Pennsylvania

Don’t Miss Signs of Hypothyroidism

Oct 31, 2019 10:00AM
by Jessica Shoemaker

The thyroid gland produces hormones that affect how the body uses energy. Thyroid imbalances such as hypothyroidism can impact every organ system and affect body functions from metabolism and digestion to heart rate and mental clarity.

Unfortunately, the standard thyroid screening test many doctors use often misses some of the clinical markers of hypothyroid. The most common reason is that their testing assesses the total hormone levels, but overlooks the free/bioavailable portion of T4 and T3. This is significant because T3 does the lion’s share of the work when it comes to metabolism.

Insufficient testing can be disheartening to patients because although they have the symptoms of hypothyroid, they get the message they are fine, based on incomplete labs. In order to properly test for hypothyroid, they must request a test that measures the free components of thyroid hormone, including T3, not just the total levels.

Specific nutrients like zinc, copper and selenium are needed to convert thyroid hormone T4 into T3, so a low T3 that looks like hypothyroidism can actually be caused by nutrient deficiencies. These are not difficult to correct, but the additional test must be run to discover these common missing links.

Here are three signs of hypothyroid.

Dryness in stool, skin or hair. Hypothyroid often manifests as constipation, a dry, hard stool or a lack of urge to go on a daily basis. Many people that experience dry skin and hair in the winter often assume it’s just a seasonal problem and wait months before looking for a deeper issue. Hair changes and hair loss are clear signs they need a thyroid workup.

Weight Gain. Thyroid hormones play a major roll in metabolism and the ability to maintain an optimal weight. Unexplained weight gain is a classic sign of hypothyroidism. In addition, if the recipe of diet/nutrition/exercise that has typically yielded weight loss results in the past suddenly has no positive effect, a thyroid workup is in order.

Fatigue. Oftentimes patients can’t tell the difference between fatigue and depression because they can feel so similar. If they suddenly feel sluggish all through the day or only have energy for the highest priority tasks, a complete thyroid workup is indicated.

The bottom line is not to settle for incomplete lab workups that could miss the signs of hypothyroid.

Dr. Jessica Shoemaker, ND, is the owner of Natural Paths to Wellness, located at 3601 Gettysburg Rd., in Camp Hill. For more information, visit

Upcoming Events Near You
Our Current Issue