Hair Loss and Thyroid Disorders, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Cure and How to Cope...

Hair Loss and Thyroid Disorders, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Cure and How to Cope With It

There are various reasons why you start losing your hair in an abnormal manner. Can hair fall or hair loss be due to problem with your thyroid? Before we move on to see what this kind of relation exists between hair loss and thyroid problems, learn more about the thyroid not forgetting its body function.

The thyroid

What is the thyroid and what is its function? This is a small gland located in front of the neck. Its functions to our bodies include producing triiodothyronine and thyroxine hormones into the bloodstream.

These hormones helps in regulation of important body processes like metabolism which ensures health and growth.

Is hair fall or loss due to thyroid disease or disorder?

Hir loss due to thyroid disease
Hair loss due to thyroid disease

One of the indicators of a problem with your thyroid is hair fall. Since hair growth is initiated by activities of the hair follicles, any change in hair growth cycle can affect the condition of hair on scalp or eyebrow hairs.

Another reason why thyroid disorder causes hair loss, is due to the fact that there is a fluctuation of hormones produced by the thyroid gland.

Below is a brief discussion to help you understand you have a thyroid problem, disease or thyroid disorders associated with losing hair. (We have highlighted some of the symptoms).

Hypothyroidism

To begin, hyperthyroidism means that your thyroid produce less-than-required thyroid hormone. Patients with Hashimoto’s disease are at risk of hypothyroidism.

Hair thinning on the entire scalp could indicate that you are suffering from hypothyroidism. Besides, other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

Diffuse scalp hair thinning
Diffuse scalp hair thinning
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Weakness
  • Dry and rough, pale-looking skin
  • Not being able to tolerate cold temperature
  • Frequent muscle aches and cramps
  • Heavy or abnormal menstrual cycles in females
  • Decreased libido or infertility
  • Depression and memory loss
  • Constipation

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism patients have an overly active thyroid gland meaning that it produces excessive thyroxine hormone more than the body requires.

Grave’s disease causes hyperthyroidism in more than half of the reported cases.

Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fine hair
  • Hair that snaps easily with little stretching
  • Weakness in muscles
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased perspiration and heart beats
  • Thinner skin

IMPORTANT: A severe hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can actually cause hair loss (baldness) in both men and women.

As opposed to, genetic androgenetic pattern, severe thyroid problem (i.e. hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism) leads to diffuse thinning or hair falling out across the entire scalp. This occurs in a progressive manner.

Thyroiditis

This disorder is due to inflammation of the thyroid caused by infection. Bacterial or viral infections can lead to thyroidal inflammation.

Symptoms of thyroiditis may vary according to forms of inflammation namely, sub-acute, postpartum and autoimmune thyroiditis. Viral infections are responsible for sub-acute thyroiditis. Postpartum thyroiditis is another form of thyroiditis that shows up in women usually within 6 months after having given birth.

Another autoimmune conditions associated with autoimmune thyroiditis include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and lupus erythematosus.

Thyroiditis can cause swollen or enlarged thyroid among other symptoms of thyroiditis such as flu-like symptoms or fever, nervousness, body tremor and warmer feeling in body.

Notably, autoimmune thyroiditis is symptomatic of painless swollen thyroid. Moreover, people with autoimmune thyroid disorder are at risk of developing alopecia areata. Sometimes, this disorder may run in families.

Myxedema

Myxedema could result from either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism especially when in severe forms. Therefore, myxedema is a serious thyroidal disorder.

Thyroid disorder and pregnancy

During pregnancy, thyroid hormone levels normally rise naturally. This poses a challenge as far as diagnosing or evaluating thyroid problems are concerned.

Some women may experience recurring symptoms especially after pregnancy. Besides consulting your GP, it is also important to go for diagnosis after every pregnancy.

Diagnosis of thyroidal disorders

Treatment for hair loss and thyroid is more likely to be achieved after diagnoses are done properly. Experts and doctors diagnose different thyroidal disorders through blood tests, measuring antibody levels or physical examination.

Treatment for hair loss and thyroid

As we have seen, patients with thyroid disorders experience not only losing hair but also unwelcome life realities some of which can raise concerns in one’s social life.

Are thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism reversible? Find out how thyroidal disorders or diseases associated with loss of hair may be overcome.

Artificial hormones (anti-thyroid drugs)

Use of drugs that inhibit production of thyroid hormones can help solve the problems with your thyroid gland. These drugs are thought to work by inhibiting iodination. The medicines are effective after a few weeks of treatment. Patients should visit their doctor as treatment is ongoing.

Drug sample used in treatment of hypothyroidism include Carbimazole, Methimazole and Propylthiouracil.

Some hormone preparations can actually lead to hair loss. For instance, levothyroxine can combine with testosterone which results in loss of hair.

According to the British Thyroid Foundation, certain drugs used in getting control of the thyroid problems can result in diffuse hair loss. These include Amiodarone, Axitinib, Interferons, and Lithium drugs.

Treatment for thyroiditis

This disorder can resolve on its own. Optionally, if the symptoms persist – e.g. pain due to inflammation – your doctor will prescribe steroid medicines to deal with the problem.

Furthermore, on a successful examination, your doctor should explain the expected outcome during and after treatment.

Beta blockers

If the symptoms of thyroiditis do not resolve, beta blockers may also be given to help clear the symptoms.

Radio-iodine

Also termed as radio-iodine therapy, this form of treatment is preferably used for hyperthyroidism more so when there is no good response to other treatments. Reportedly, this form of cure has a better success rate compared with medications for hyperthyroidism.

However, patients with Grave’s disease can develop hypothyroidism with long-lasting symptoms. Moreover, some patients may need to undergo more therapy treatments if the previous one does not serve the purpose. Sometimes, hyperthyroidism symptoms may worsen.

Radio-iodine therapy is restricted to pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Other treatments for hyperthyroidism include restrictions on diet and thyroid storm.

NOTE: Stopping your thyroid treatment may worsen the symptoms or result in more hair loss.

Surgery

Surgery is not used as a primary method of dealing with thyroidal diseases such as hyperthyroidism. Additionally, there is the health risk linked to removal of the thyroid glands. However, after consultation, some people with Grave’s disease can opt for surgery.

Natural treatments for thyroid diseases

Besides the above options, below are other natural treatment for thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Vitamin B complex

These vitamins are essential for the well-being and can also help in promoting hair growth by influencing how thyroid gland produces hormones. These include vitamin B6, B12 and B7 or Biotin.

Nutrients

Most sources of vitamin A, C, D and E really support hair growth and scalp health.

Fatty acids

All fatty acids are essential requirements for symptoms such as grey hair and thinning. Some of these fatty acids include Evening primrose oil, Gamma-Linolenic Acid (omega 6 fatty acid) and Omega 3 such as fish oil.

Consult your GP if the following remedies can be ideal for your thyroid problem.

  • Lycopodium
  • Sepia
  • Calcarea
  • Carbonica
  • Pulsatilla
  • Phosphoric acidum

Living or coping with hair loss and thyroidal diseases

How do people with thyroid disorders live to cope up with hair loss? Even if there are solutions to thyroid disorders, there is still need to seek assistance from a medical team or get relevant support from your family.

Below are other helpful tips to help you cope with or living with thyroid diseases.

  • Continue washing your hair as part of hygiene or healthy living
  • If you see there is need to use hair products, please consult your professional health care provider
  • Take hair supplements with caution. It is even safer to follow your GP’s advice on supplements
  • Avoid products or foods whose iodine content is high such as edible seaweed, kelps, etc.
  • Some patients find hair extensions, wigs or makeup to be useful to especially women with hair loss and thyroid problems
  • Patients are encouraged to eat healthily but should observe regulations on diet. For instance, individuals should help themselves with Calcium-rich foods
  • Individuals who want to re-grow hair back faster, can also use specialized shampoo for hair growth
  • Minimize stress if you want to regrow hair faster after reverse treatment. Stress and hair loss can be disappointing
  • Avoid high-iodine hair shampoo or conditioners

You may also find it helpful if you join a support group. If otherwise, it significantly affects on your part of daily life or activities, talk to your doctor who has specialized in hair loss.

Conclusion

In general, hair loss and thyroid problems is usually temporary. Some people may not realize diffuse thinning until or after undergoing treatment of thyroid diseases.

The scalp is not the only area where loss of hair is expected to occur. Other areas of the body including the eyelashes, eyebrows and beard can show quite a noticeable hair fall.

In special cases where hair is expected to re-grow after falling out, anyone should be patient. Even though it becomes difficult, try talking to your family or support group members for help. The bottom line is to see a hair loss specialist to possibly rule out other causes of hair falling out.

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References
  1. How to cope with hair loss in women: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/hairloss/pages/womenandhairloss.aspx
  2. Hair Loss and Thyroid Disorders: http://www.btf-thyroid.org/information/109-hair-loss-and-thyroid-disorders
  3. The Belgravia Centre. Hypothyroidism: http://www.belgraviacentre.com/blog/hypothyroidism-and-hair-loss-337/. Accessed online on 28th March 2017.
  4. Hair loss treatment for Thyroid Patients: https://canadianhair.ca/blog/hair-loss-treatment-thyroid-patients/
  5. Does Thyroid Disease Cause Hair Loss? http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/category/cancer-articles
  6. Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions

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