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Hypothyroidism and Hair Loss: Everything You Need to Know.

July 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Health, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) They say that hair is your best accessory. For most people, it plays a huge role in their level of self-confidence.

But, what happens when hair loss strikes? Does it mean you have to start shopping for a wig? Do you need to get a hair transplant?

Before you go off on a trajectory, try getting your thyroid checked first. This often over-looked gland is the common denominator for both hypothyroidism and hair loss.

A whopping 20 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid disease. What’s even more alarming is that 60% of people in this demographic are completely unaware that they have a thyroid disorder.

Hypothyroidism is by far the most prevalent of all thyroid disorders. If undiagnosed it leads to hair loss.

So, what’s the link between your thyroid and your hair? In this guide, we take an in-depth look into everything you need to know about hypothyroidism and hair loss. Read on.

Difference Between Normal Hair Loss and Thyroid-Related Hair Loss

Before we go any further, it’s important to differentiate between what constitutes normal hair loss and thyroid-related hair loss. To do this, you first need to understand the three main phases of the hair life cycle. These are outlined below:

The Anagen Phase

This the first phase of the hair life cycle. It is also referred to as the “growth phase”.

At any given time, a large percentage of the hair on your scalp is in this phase. The rate and duration of growth depend on the body part and the type of hair you have.

The Catagen Phase

This is the second phase of the hair lifecycle. It is also called the “transition phase”.

At this point, the hair stops actively growing. It typically lasts about three weeks at a time.

The Telogen Phase

This is the final stage of the hair life cycle. In this stage, the hair prepares to shed before it is finally pushed out of the hair follicle to make room for new hair growth.

Once this happens the cycle begins all over again. Hair loss that occurs in the telogen phase is termed as “normal hair loss”. On average, you shed between 50 and 150 telogen hairs per day.

Hypothyroidism and Hair Loss: What Are the Symptoms

Now that you know what normal hair loss looks like, let’s delve into abnormal hair loss brought on by thyroid-related issues. There are some characteristic symptoms of hair loss that results from an underlying thyroid issue. The major ones include:

  • Hair thinning/loss across the entire scalp
  • Hair thinning/loss in dispersed areas of the scalp causing smooth circular bald patches
  • Loss of hair on the outer edges of the eyebrows
  • Noticeable changes in the hair texture

With regards to changes in hair texture, hypothyroidism causes your hair to become dry and coarse. If you notice these changes in the hair on your body, it might be time to get your thyroid checked.

Thyroid Function

The thyroid gland is responsible for releasing thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. These are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

They serve to regulate a wide range of body functions central to which is metabolism and the central nervous system. Every cell in the body has receptors for these two hormones. They act directly on the:

  • Brain
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Red blood cell metabolism
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Bone metabolism
  • Protein, lipid and cholesterol metabolism
  • Liver and gall bladder function
  • Steroid hormone production
  • Body temperature regulation

Think of the thyroid as the main gear in a sophisticated engine which, in this case, is your body. If it breaks down, the function of the entire engine goes down with it.

Hypothyroidism occurs when your body fails to produce enough thyroid hormone. This can be detected when there are high thyroid antibodies present in the bloodstream.

Some of these destroy thyroid tissue which causes the gland to become underactive. Presence of these antibodies could be a sign of Hashimoto thyroiditis which is a common cause of hypothyroidism.

The Link Between Your Thyroid and Your Hair

When you have an underactive thyroid or “hypothyroid”, the resulting hormonal imbalance causes the hair life cycle to remain in the catagen and telogen phases for longer periods of time. This stalls the regeneration of hair and causes subsequent hair loss.

What’s more, in some individuals who suffer from hypothyroidism, the conversion process of testosterone to the less useful Dihydrotestosterone speeds up. This hormone attacks the hair follicle and shrinks it.

In some cases, it makes it disappear entirely. As a result, hair becomes thinner and eventually stops growing. The process continues until the individual starts taking thyroid medication to stabilize the hormonal levels in the bloodstream.

Medical Treatment for Hypothyroidism

Levothyroxine is the gold standard for the treatment of hypothyroidism. It works by making up for the T4 deficiency to stabilize the hormone levels in the body.

Some people do better on drugs that contain a combination of both T3 and T4. Once the levels of thyroid hormone in your blood return to normal, symptoms that are associated with the disease will disappear.

Your hair will eventually regain its normal thickness and luster. Once you begin the treatment, it might take several months before you notice a change in the volume of your hair.

So, you need to be patient. If your symptoms persist, your physician might need to adjust your dosage until your hormones achieve a balance.

Ensure that you also check thyroid medication prices for the various brands available on the market to see which one you can afford to pay for in the long term. This is important given the fact that patients who suffer from hypothyroidism have to take the medication for the rest of their lives.

The Bottom Line

The link between hypothyroidism and hair loss cannot be ignored. If you’re suffering from abnormal hair loss, speak to your physician about it first before attempting to treat it yourself.

Hypothyroidism won’t typically cause hair loss unless it has become severe. Nevertheless, if an underactive thyroid is responsible for your hair loss, with proper treatment and management of the disorder, you should see fuller a head of hair after a couple of months.

Did you find this article insightful? Check out our blog for more health-related posts.

Staff Writer; Steve Love


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