Hair Loss due to Thyroid

Hair Loss and Thyroid

Hair loss can occur when your thyroid gland is not working correctly.

Hair Loss and Thyroid

Thyroid is a small gland which has the shape like a butterfly that sits low on the front of the neck. It helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream.

The important hormones produced by thyroid gland are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)

Furthermore, thyroid conditions occur when your thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones Or producing too much of hormones. The most common type of thyroid conditions are as following:

Both conditions (Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism) can cause dry, brittle hair or thinning hair on your scalp and body.

The Link Between Thyroid Conditions and Hair Loss

Thyroid conditions can cause hair loss if they are severe and left untreated. But, before understanding how these conditions cause hair loss, let us first understand the hair growth process.

  1. Hair starts growing from the roots (bottom of your hair follicles) on your scalp.
  2. Your scalp’s blood vessels provide nutrients to the root and help in hair growth.
  3. Hair pushes up and out through your skin. The hair passes through the oil glands that help maintain the required moisture in the hair.
  4. Hair grows for sometime and then falls off as a new hair growth cycle starts.

Kindly note, the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) directly affect hair growth and its development. When the hormone production is disturbed, it can lead to hair thinning across your scalp and other areas such as your eyebrows.

Hair loss due to Autoimmune thyroid disease

Most people with Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism have autoimmune thyroid disease. If someone has one type of autoimmune disease, he/she is more likely to develop another autoimmune condition for example: 

Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss in people having autoimmune thyroid disease.

It causes circular patches of hair loss in more discrete areas. In most cases this is temporary and does not progress, but unfortunately it can cause significant baldness. 

There are other rare autoimmune conditions that can also cause hair loss :

Hair loss and Antithyroid Drugs

Some antithyroid drugs such as (carbimazole and propylthiouracil) can, in rare cases, cause hair loss. But, it may be very difficult to tell whether the drug or your thyroid condition is causing hair loss.

Furthermore, it is very rare for anti-thyroid drugs or treatment to cause hair loss. Kindly note, Antithyroid drugs are used to treat an overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroidism).

Symptoms of Thyroid Related Hair Loss

Slow and gradual thinning of hair is the most common symptom of thyroid related hair loss. You may notice more than usual hair lose while combing.

Furthermore, hair loss may develop slowly with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. You won’t necessarily see patches or bald spots on your scalp, but, your hair may seem thinner all over.

In most cases, hair loss caused by thyroid conditions is temporary, but regrowth of hairs may take several months.

It is important to note here that, you can still experience hair loss even after starting medicines for your thyroid condition. This is because the hair growth cycle is a months long process. But some people start wrongly blaming the thyroid medicines for hair loss. Unfortunately, if they stop their thyroid medicines, the hair loss problem will become worse.

Kindly note, it is perfectly normal to lose 50–100 hairs from your head each day. However, hair loss beyond this needs medical attention and may be related to thyroid problem.

Treatment options for thyroid related hair loss

Dear Reader, always remember that, “Treating thyroid related hair loss requires treating the Thyroid Problem“.

Working with your doctor to keep your thyroid disorder under control with medication may keep your hair thicker and can regenerate hair growth. But try to be patient because, regrowth of hairs can be unpredictable and may take several months.

Treatment for an underactive thyroid – (hypothyroidism):

  • levothyroxine: Your doctor will usually prescribe a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine to treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).

    This medicine is given when your thyroid gland does not produce enough of this hormone on its own.

Treatment for an overactive thyroid – (hyperthyroidism):

  • Antithyroid medications: Antithyroid medications, such as (propylthiouracil and methimazole) decrease the thyroid gland’s ability to make the thyroid hormone. It is used to treat overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
  • Radioactive iodine: This treatment kills some cells in the thyroid gland and reduce the amount of hormones that the gland produces. This treatment induces hypothyroidism, which is then managed by using thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest the life.
  • Surgery: Your doctor will monitor your thyroid levels while you are on medication. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. It involves the removal of some or all of the thyroid gland, which may lead to hypothyroidism.

Kindly note, with the treatment, hair growth may be noticeable within several months. But be aware that the new hair may differ in color or texture from your original hair.

Home Remedies for thyroid related hair loss

Along with medication suggested by your doctor, you may try different home remedies to slowdown hair loss or regenerate hair growth. While the home remedies given below do not hold any scientific evidence, but you can give them a try to boost your hair growth.

1. Eating a balanced diet can help in growth and improve the condition of your hair. Foods that can increase the chances of having healthy hair include:

  • Fish: Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that can help prevent a dry scalp.
  • Green vegetables: Vegetables such as spinach have high levels of vitamins A and C. These vitamins can improve the condition of hair.
  • Protein rich foods: Eating foods rich in protein can help prevent weak hair. Dairy products, nuts and lean meats all contain high levels of protein.
  • Calcium rich foods: Calcium is key to hair growth. Dairy products, such as milk and cheese are Good sources of calcium.
  • Iron Rich Foods: Iron deficiency and thyroid related hair loss are related. You can get tested for iron levels in your body and consider supplements for iron rich foods like liver, eggs, lamb, green leafy vegetables and so on.

2. Apply Essential Oils: Essential oils like eucalyptus oil and other plant extracts are known to improve hair growth. But, it’s important to talk with your doctor before using essential oils and use caution while choosing a quality brand.

Furthermore, you should also always do a patch test before using any essential oil for hair growth.

3. Control Iodine Intake: People with autoimmune thyroid disorders should check their iodine consumption. The body uses iodine to make thyroid hormone, so too much of iodine consumption may lead to imbalances.

Therefore, It is very important to understand how much iodine you would require in a day.

4. Yoga Asanas: A healthy lifestyle, which includes balanced diet and regular exercise, can help you live well with thyroid disease. Furthermore, adding yoga to your daily routine may help improve your thyroid function and hair growth.

Yoga for healthy thyroid and hair growth

Dear Reader, please discuss the above mentioned home remedies with your doctor before you start.

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What is an Endocrinologist

An endocrinologist is a specially trained doctors who is qualified to diagnose diseases that affect the glands. The conditions that are treated by an endocrinologist are as following:

  • Thyroid diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Menopause
  • Over or under production of hormones
  • Lack of growth
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Lipid disorders
  • Cancers of the endocrine glands
  • Osteoporosis

The common diseases and disorders that endocrinologists deal with include diabetes and thyroid disorders.

Endocrinologist Image

An Endocrinologist is a True Specialist

An endocrinologist is a specialist who has thoroughly studied hormonal conditions and knows the best possible treatments, even when conventional treatments do not work well. Unlike a family doctor or general practitioner, an endocrinologist studies hormones and hormonal diseases in depth. Hence, this specialist will be able to provide the best possible treatment. 

What to expect at your first appointment with an endocrinologist

Your endocrinologist is likely to ask you a number of questions. So being prepared before you see him will be of great help to you, as this may save time to go over any particularly important points you feel the need to spend more time on.

Appointment with Endocrinologist Image

He will ask in detail about the symptoms you are experiencing, specifically related to the deficiency or excess of a hormone you may have.

Your doctor may ask:

  • What are your symptoms, and when did you first notice them?
  • How have your symptoms changed over time?
  • Has your appearance changed, including your weight or the amount of your body hair?
  • Have any of your family members been diagnosed with thyroid disease, hormonal or autoimmune conditions?
  • Are you currently being treated or have you recently been treated for any other medical conditions?
  • Have you recently had a baby?
  • Have you lost interest in sex? If you’re a woman, has your menstrual cycle changed?
  • Have you had any recent head injuries or have you had neurosurgery?

Further, your examination will depend on the type of problem you have. Your endocrinologist will look for signs of a disease as well as complications of the disease and treatments.

An Endocrinologist Works with Your Primary Care Doctor

Visiting an endocrinologist does not mean you will never see your primary care doctor again. Going to an endocrinologist when struggling with a hormonal condition gives you another set of eyes to ensure your health is as good as it can be.

Remember, your goal when facing a hormonal disease diagnosis should be to take care of your disease as best as possible. This is often done with the support of an endocrinologist. 

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Hashimoto’s Disease

Hashimoto’s Disease in an autoimmune disorder. In which the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. This can lead to hypothyroidism, a condition in which thyroid does not make enough hormones for body’s need. Hashimoto is the most common cause of hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid).

Generally immune system protects body against bacteria and viruses. But in Hashimoto’s Disease, immune system make antibodies, which attacks the cells of thyroid gland. Doctors do not know why this happens, but some scientists believe genetic factors may be involved. The disease affects more women than men.

Hashimoto’s Disease

Causes of Hashimoto’s Disease

The exact cause of the disease is not known, but many factors are believed to play a role:

Genetic: You are at higher risk of Hashimoto’s disease, if others in your family have thyroid disease or other autoimmune disorder. This suggests a genetic component to the disease.

Hormones: It is seven times more likely to occur Hashimoto’s Disease in women than men. Furthermore, some women have thyroid problems during the first year after having a baby called postpartum thyroiditis. Although the problem usually goes away, but some of these women develop Hashimoto’s years later.

Radiation exposure. People exposed to excessive levels of environmental radiation are more prone to Hashimoto’s disease.

Age. Hashimoto’s disease can occur at any age but more commonly occurs during middle age.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease

You may have Hashimoto’s disease for many years before you experience any symptoms. The disease can progress for a long time, before it causes noticeable thyroid damage. The first sign is often an enlarged thyroid, called a goiter. The goiter may cause the front of your neck to look swollen. You may feel it in your throat, or it may be hard to swallow. Other sign and symptoms of an underactive thyroid due to Hashimoto’s may include:

  • Constipation
  • Dry, pale skin
  • Hoarse voice
  • Depression
  • Inability to get warm
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Hair loss
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Puffiness of the face
Hashimoto's Disease Symptoms

Because the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroid may be similar to those for other medical conditions, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis.

Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease

In general, your doctor may test for Hashimoto’s disease if you’re feeling increasingly tired or sluggish, have dry skin, constipation, and a hoarse voice, or have had previous thyroid problems or a goiter.

Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease is based on your signs and symptoms and the results of blood test. These may include:

Thyroid function test: This blood test tells whether your body has the right amounts of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormone. A high level of TSH is a sign of an underactive thyroid. When the thyroid begins to fail, the pituitary gland makes more TSH to trigger the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. When the damaged thyroid can no longer keep up, your thyroid hormone levels drop below normal.

An antibodies test: This test confirm the presence of antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPO antibodies). The presence of TPO antibodies in your blood suggests that, the cause of thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder. Furthermore, TPO antibody test isn’t always positive in everyone with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. However, many people have TPO antibodies present, but don’t have a goiter, hypothyroidism or other problems.

Treatment

Most patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis will require lifelong treatment with levothyroxine. Furthermore, synthetic levothyroxine taken orally at an appropriate dose, is an inexpensive and very effective in restoring normal thyroid hormone levels. It results in an improvement of symptoms of hypothyroidism.

In addition, Regular use of levothyroxine can return your thyroid hormone levels to normal. However, you’ll probably need regular tests to monitor your hormone levels. This allows your doctor to adjust your dose as necessary.

Complications

Left untreated, an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) caused by Hashimoto’s disease can lead to a number of health problems:

  • Goiter
  • depression
  • Heart problems
  • Mental health issues
  • Myxedema
  • Birth defects

Hashimoto’s can also cause problems during pregnancy. Furthermore, babies born to women with untreated hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s disease may have a higher risk of birth defects than do babies born to healthy mothers. Doctors have long known that these children are more prone to intellectual and developmental problems. There may be a link between hypothyroid pregnancies and birth defects, such as a cleft palate.

A connection also exists between hypothyroid pregnancies and heart, brain and kidney problems in infants. If you’re planning to get pregnant or if you’re in early pregnancy, be sure to have your thyroid level checked.

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Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormones. It refers to a state in which a person’s thyroid hormones production is above normal level. It is also called overactive thyroid. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate the metabolism rate of your body. As a result, it can cause weight loss and irregular heart activity. It is more common in women than men. Blood tests are the only way to reliably confirm a diagnosis.

Furthermore, having too much of thyroid hormones can cause unpleasant and potentially serious problems that may need treatment. Signs and symptoms of it varies from person to person. But some symptoms of it can be easily confused with other disease.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

  • Bulging Eyes
  • Abnormal Heart Rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Irritability
  • Itching
  • Heat Intolerance
  • Stress
  • Sleeplessness
  • Vision Problem
  • Frequent Sweating
  • Irregular Mensuration
  • Nervousness
Hyperthyroidism Symptoms Image

If you suspect your symptoms are the result of a thyroid problem, it’s most important you talk with your doctor. They can order a blood test to measure the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood. Because high levels of Thyroxine (T4) and low amounts of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) in blood indicates an overactive thyroid.

Treatment of Hyperthyroidism

Antithyroid medications (sometimes written as anti-thyroid medications) suggested by your doctor is a common treatment for hyperthyroidism. Hence, the goal of antithyroid medications is to prevent the thyroid from producing excess amounts of T3 and T4 hormones.

Diet In Hyperthyroidism

If we talk about diet plan, then there are certainly many do’s and dont’s. Although a healthy diet can’t cure or prevent hyperthyroidism. However, eating healthy foods may help ease hyperthyroidism symptoms.

What to Eat
  • Lentils
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Potato
  • Honey
  • Red Meat
  • Cauliflower, Broccoli
  • Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry
  • Unsalted Nuts
What to avoid
  • Dairy Products
  • Soy Products
  • Salted Nuts and Seeds
  • Caffeine

Also, healthy eating, exercising and stress management plan can help ease hyperthyroid symptoms. Medication plays an important role in treating hyperthyroidism, but it is also important to do exercise on daily basis. So you can start with some simple exercises like walking, aerobics, pushups and yoga.

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Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. It refers to a state in which a person’s thyroid hormones production is bellow normal. It is also called under active thyroid or low thyroid, which can slow down the metabolism rate of your body and can decrease the cardiac activity. Hypothyroidism affects women more frequently than men. Furthermore, blood tests are the only way to reliably confirm a diagnosis of hypothyroidism.

Signs and symptoms of Hypothyroidism varies from person to person. But some symptoms can be easily confused with other disease.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Hair Loss
  • Puffy Face
  • Dry Skin
  • Slow Heartbeat
  • Constipation
  • Irregular Periods in women
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Cold Sensitivity
  • Tiredness
  • Sore Muscles
  • Joint Pain
  • Depression
  • Weight Gain
Hypothyroidism Symptoms Image

If you suspect your symptoms are the result of a thyroid problem, then it’s important you talk with your doctor. They can order a blood test, because If you have low level of Thyroxine (T4) and abnormally high level of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), you may have Hypothyroidism.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

It involves daily intake of medicines suggested by your doctor and little change in your diet. It will definitely help return your body’s functions to normal. For example, I am on medicine ie Thyronorm 75mcg (Levothyroxine Sodium) suggested by my doctor. It is also important to check the thyroid levels on quarterly basis for proper monitoring of thyroid levels in your body.

Diet In Hypothyroidism

If we talk about diet plan, then there are certainly many do’s and dont’s.

What to Eat
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Gluten Free Grains & Seeds
  • Dairy Products
  • Non caffeinated Beverages
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Selenium rich food
What to avoid
  • Soy Foods
  • Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Spinach
  • Fruits & Starchy Plants ie. Sweet Potatoes, Peaches, Strawberries
  • Pine nuts
  • Peanuts

Also, a regular exercise plays an important role in your hypothyroidism management plan. The good news is that, you don’t have to run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise. In other words, you can start with swimming, walking and some yoga.

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