Losing your hair? Your problem could be caused by a thyroid disease.
THYROID DISEASE AND HAIR LOSS
TWO COMMON THYROID DISEASES
HASHIMOTO’S, an auto-immune disease, is the most usual cause of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) in the United States. It can happen to anyone at any age, but is most common in middle-aged women. Symptoms include: fatigue, depression, constipation, weight gain, dry skin, dry and thinning hair, intolerance to cold, enlarged thyroid. Treatment includes hormone replacement.
GRAVES’, an auto-immune disease, is the most common cause of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). It is hereditary and most common in women 20 to 30 years old. Other risk factors include stress, pregnancy, and smoking. Symptoms include: anxiety, irritability, fatigue, hand tremors, increased or irregular heartbeats, difficulty sleeping, diarrhea or frequent bowel movements, excessive sweating, enlarged thyroid, bulging eyes and vision problems.
Because successful treatment of Graves’ disease often leads to an underactive thyroid gland, ultimate on-going treatment ends up being hormone-replacement medication. If left untreated, Graves’ disease can lead to heart problems and brittle bones.
THYROID HORMONES AND HAIR LOSS
Hair follicles follow a natural cycle of growth and resting phases. At any given time, most of your hair should be growing while a small portion of it is resting. Changes in your medical condition, however, can affect that cycle, causing too much “resting” and not enough “growing.” The result can be serious hair loss.
Normal hair growth depends on the proper functioning of your thyroid gland. An underactive thyroid can result in hair loss on your scalp and elsewhere. An overactive thyroid can make your hair too fine, resulting in thinning hair.
TREATING THYROID DISEASE AND HAIR LOSS
Thyroid function can be measured with a simple blood test. Once your hormone level has been addressed and regulated, your hair loss problem should be solved.
The hormone levothyroxine is often used to treat an underactive thyroid. Ironically, this hormone can have the temporary side effect of contributing to some additional hair loss within the first month or so of treatment. In any case, it can take a while to get your thyroid under control. While you’re waiting, you can ask your doctor if you should try a topical medication such as mixoxidil (Rogaine) to spur hair growth. Other temporary solutions include wearing a hair piece or wig, or getting a new hairstyle to camouflage hair loss while you’re waiting for the results of your thyroid treatment program.
SOME SYMPTOMS MIMIC OTHER ILLNESSES
• Anxiety, irritability, increased nervousness
• Insomnia, or lethargy and sleeping too much
• Weight changes—loss or gain
• Muscle pain or weakness
• Cognitive impairment—remembering, concentrating, paying attention
Because some symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can mimic those of other illnesses—including clinical depression or even some forms of dementia —it is important to get an early diagnosis and regulated hormone levels as soon as possible.
POST MENOPAUSAL HAIR
Once you and your hair are post-menopausal, you will probably need to use new tools and approaches for keeping it clean, moisturized, and looking its best. Some of these same techniques may also help your hair in the process of adjusting to new thyroid meds.
For more information:
• everydayhealth.com - thyroid disease and hair loss
• healthline.com - common thyroid disorders
• asknelly.com - hair after menopause
• asknelly.com - Alzheimers vs normal aging
• asknelly.com - depression