can thyroid problems cause hair loss?

Can Thyroid Problems Cause Hair Loss?

Does the thyroid affect hair growth?

The thyroid is an important part of our endocrine system which is located around the windpipe area and affects literally every single cell in our body (including hair follicles), by secreting hormones into the blood stream.  So of course, thyroid problems can cause hair loss.

Thyroid hormones regulate our cell metabolism, so if something goes wrong, then it can have major implications for our overall health, not just our hair.

The two main and most common problems with the thyroid are:

  • Hypothyroidism (under active thyroid gland)
  • Hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid gland)

Hypothyroidism can be a cause of hair loss in men and women

Having an under active thyroid is more common than having an overactive one. Some people who have an under active thyroid might not even be aware of this. It might be sub-clinical, so it doesn’t usually interfere with normal life. However, if the condition gets worse, then symptoms will often appear.

What are the causes of hypothyroidism?

can thyroid problems cause hair loss?

There can be a number of reasons for an under active thyroid. Some can be benign, where levels of T3 and T4 are decreased and TSH remains normal.

Calorie restriction can reduce thyroid hormone levels, but is unrelated to a disease. This is simply the body trying to conserve energy, and once calorie intake is increased, the thyroid gland will respond in turn.

A low thyroid (in the absence of disease) has actually been linked to longevity in animals and humans.

What are the causes of hypothyroidism?

  • Infections
  • Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune disease)
  • Underdeveloped thyroid gland during child development
  • Medications (anti virals, amiodarone, interferons)

One of the signs of hypothyroidism is slower hair growth and hair loss. But there are also other important symptoms that you should look out for.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

  • Hair that becomes dry and brittle
  • Diffuse hair loss or patchy hair loss
  • Low body temperature
  • Weight gain
  • Low energy levels and feeling tired all of the time
  • Frequent infections
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dry skin, eyes, and ears
  • Depression

If you have at least three of these symptoms, then it might be a good idea to check with your doctor to get a blood test. Try to look at: Free T3, Free T4 and TSH.

Hyperthyroidism can also be a cause of hair loss

This is less common, but can also present a problem for your hair and health when the thyroid is producing too much T3 and T4.  This sends the body’s cells into overdrive, causing a host of scary symptoms.

What are the causes of hyperthyroidism? 

The main causes of hyperthyroidism include the following:

  • Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland)
  • Excessive iodine intake
  • High dose of thyroid hormones (T4)
  • Grave’s disease (one of the most likely causes)

Hair loss and hair graying are both signs of someone having a overactive thyroid. However, other symptoms are much more concerning, and are likely to be noticed and troubling before you ever start to worry about your hair.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Hand termors
  • Insomnia
  • Palpitations (irregular heartbeat)
  • General anxiety and nervous behaviour

Will my hair come back when thyroid levels are normal again?

There is a very good chance that once your thyroid levels have been corrected, your hair will return to normal.

Usually, because the hair growth cycle can take months, you should wait at least 3 or 4 months before you start to see any return of the hair. It may even take longer as your body starts to readjust.

Eat well, make sure you’re getting all the vitamins, minerals, fats, and protein that are essential for hair growth, and have a bit of patience.

Hair growth is very sensitive to hormones

Our hair follicles are hypersensitive to sudden changes in hormone levels. The thyroid isn’t the only gland that affects our hair growth.

Hair growth can also be affected by levels of estrogen, testosterone, DHT, IGF-1 and others.

Therefore, it is important to recognize that just solving a thyroid problem, might not be the only thing that needs to be done for optimal and fast hair growth.

In addition to getting your thyroid checked, I recommend speaking to your doctor about getting a comprehensive blood panel such as:  complete blood count (WBC/RBC), metabolic panel, kidney, liver, glucose,  sex hormones (male and female hormones), and Ferritin.  IGF-1 and C-reactive protein are also useful information to have.

Important: messing with hormones can be dangerous, so it is always recommended that you never try to treat yourself by self medicating.

why is my hair shedding a lot?

Why Is My Hair Shedding So Much?

Why does hair shed and what can you do about it?

People who have short hair just won’t understand because hair shedding can easily go unnoticed. But if you have long hair, it will tangle up in the brush, you’ll find it in the drain of your shower, and you’ve probably spotted a few hairs in your food too!

Hair shedding is completely natural and happens to just about everyone that has hair left on their head. There are many causes, and most often it’s just the natural cycle of hair growth. Some hairs are in growth phase, some are in resting, and some are just about ready to fall out, so the whole process can start again.

Losing hair is a scary experience for many women (and men)

Losing hair can be scary when you’re losing more than you normally would. I’ve had times when I could find my hair just about everywhere in the house. You wonder if you’ll have any left by the end of the month!

But in reality, people lose 100 – 150 hairs each day! This number number can increase for a variety of reasons, which I’ll go into in just a a second. But consider this: the average person has over 100,000 hairs on their head. Even if you are losing more hairs than normal, you have time to deal with the underlying cause before it’s even noticeable.

A healthy person will have over 90% of their hair follicles in active growth phase, but this number can change for a number of reasons:

Increased hair loss (shedding) can be caused by

  1. Stress
  2. Surgery
  3. Hormones
  4. Childbirth
  5. Nutritional deficiencies
  6. Seasonal hair shedding
  7. Autoimmune disease
  8. Medications (steroidal anti-inflammatories).
  9. Infections and skin diseases
  10. Hair pulling
  11. Sudden weight loss

This is just a short list of things which can affect hair growth and cause shedding. Most of these will only cause temporary hair loss by initiating a process called “Telogen Effluvium”. As long as the hair follicle is alive and in good shape, your hair can resume growing normally again.

If you’re taking any medications that you think is the cause of hair loss, then please speak to your doctor about it. Don’t just quit taking the medication.

Don’t panic! 

When I experienced more hair shedding than normal, I went to my doctor and spoke to him about it. He did a few blood tests to help reassure me that everything was fine. And everything was fine. My hair returned to normal some months after and it became thick again.

Identify if anything in the list might apply to you and check them off. Take action to correct any problems you think could be the cause of hair loss.

Once you’ve done that, it’s going to take quite a bit of time before you will even notice an improvement in hair shedding. Resting phase of hair can be as long as 3 months, so you’re going to need a bit of patience.

If you’re still worried…

You can see a dermatologist to check what’s actually going on. For men, the cause might be androgenetic alopecia, but for women the cause is often related to something else and is usually temporary. Dermatologists should be helpful in diagnoses the problem.

how to stop my hair from shedding so much?

  1. Consider taking a multivitamin which includes biotin
  2. Brush your hair carefully
  3. Don’t brush your hair when it’s wet
  4. Don’t pull your hair or wear hair styles that will pull on the roots of the hair
  5. Try a shampoo which can fight any fungal infections which may cause hair shedding
  6. Eat a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
  7. Deal with stress better by taking up yoga, meditation, running or whatever suits you the most
  8. Try a different hair routine. Maybe the shampoo you’re using is too harsh
  9. Don’t use harsh chemicals on your hair like bleach

Common questions about hair loss

Why is my hair falling out when I wash it?

This is due the fact that the hair was already about to shed anyway. And if your hair is long, then it might’ve just got caught up in the other hair, and the process of washing simply untangled the hair so it come away more easily.

What causes seasonal hair shedding and what can I do about it?

Seasonal hair shedding is completely natural and happens to many mammals. It is most common in the Autumn, but by no means is it restricted to this time of year. There might be a slight increase in shedding around spring time as well.  After a few weeks, things will return to normal and new hair will start growing where it was lost. There also isn’t much you can do about seasonal hair shedding.

Does washing my hair too often cause hair to fall out?

The process of washing will not cause excessive hair loss unless the chemicals you are using are harsh. If you wash your hair, you are also exfoliating the skin and removing dead skin cells which can improve the quality of the scalp and help your hair grow better. A healthy ans clean scalp is good!

Have you found anything that helps stop hair shedding? If you have, please share below in the comments!