Thyroid Hair Loss: How Does It Happen and How Can You Treat It?
Have you ever tried confiding a companion about your hair loss problem, and what your friend could only say is "It must be the hormones"? Well, people who often say this line aren't wrong. Hormones play a significant role in monitoring your body's internal processes, and a lot of times, these chemical messengers are often held accountable for the abnormalities happening inside your body. Even your hair growth is affected every time there is a hormonal imbalance.
A hormone-secreting organ known as the thyroid is found below your neck, sitting in your windpipe. This gland secretes thyroid hormones that regulate your body's metabolism, temperature, growth, and development. If something goes wrong with the thyroid, its hormonal production is severely affected, and one of its adverse repercussions is hair loss.
How does your thyroid gland affect hair growth? What are the causes of thyroid hair loss? Discover the answers by learning more about this hair loss problem.
The "Getting to Know" Stage: What is Thyroid Hair Loss?
The thyroid hormones regulate your body's energy expenditure. Even growing your hair requires sufficient energy to get the job done. Thanks to these hormones, the cells around your hair roots multiply, making your shaft longer and thicker in no time.
Thyroid hair loss occurs when you start losing some strands because of thyroid problems. There are three major thyroid disorders: hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goiter, Graves' disease, and thyroid cancer, and each one harms hair growth.
Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T3) and triiodothyronine (T4). On the other hand, hypothyroidism occurs due to the low production of these hormones. Both of these thyroid conditions can cause goiter, an enlargement of your thyroid gland.
Thyroid hormones regulate your body's growth and development processes; thus, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can affect your hair follicles' growth and development. As a result, your old hair strands fall out and are not replaced by new ones, thereby making your hair less voluminous.
A person with thyroid issues may also experience sleeping problems, if not, insomnia. This sleeping issue is a big no-no for your hair since sleep deprivation can increase your stress levels. Once your body is stressed, your adrenal glands secrete the cortisol hormones. However, an overproduction of cortisol can shrink and destroy your follicles, resulting in slower hair growth and hair loss.
Out of all the causes of hyperthyroidism, Graves' disease is the most severe of them all. It is an autoimmune disorder that forces your thyroid to secrete excessive thyroid hormones. Besides Graves' disease, an excessive iodine intake and thyroiditis (inflammation of the gland) can push your thyroid to overproduce hormones. As a result, your mane begins to lose its power.
Beware if there's a lump on your neck, for it can be a sign of thyroid cancer. When the cells in your thyroid are adversely affected, you may develop this type of cancer, impeding the gland's hormonal production. In turn, your hair follicles may not receive enough energy for the hair growth process.
Treatment Time: What Can I Do to Treat Thyroid Hair Loss?
Now that you've already identified the roots of this hair loss problem, it's your time to check out four significant ways to treat it.
1. Anti-thyroid medications
Thyroid hair loss can be due to hyperthyroidism. Thus, to curb the overproduction of hormones that trigger, you can ingest some anti-thyroid medications, such as methimazole and propylthiouracil.
How do these drugs work? These meds prevent the formation and combination of iodotyrosines and thyroglobulin, thereby stopping thyroid hormone synthesis. These drugs can indeed solve your excess hormonal problems. However, prolonged consumption of these anti-thyroid medications can seriously damage your liver and lead to your death. Before consuming, consult your doctor first for the proper prescriptions.
2. Radioiodine Therapy
Ingesting radioiodine pills, formerly known as radioactive iodine, is another way of treating hyperthyroidism, slowly shrinking and eventually destroying the thyroid gland. Doctors even recommend the total elimination of the gland, depending on the severity of the case.
A physical test is done to determine the size of the thyroid gland. The larger the thyroid, the higher the RAI dosage is given for the treatment. Fortunately, this therapy only targets your thyroid cells, thereby keeping the other cells safe. The RAI treatment usually can alleviate the symptoms in a span of one to six months. If symptoms persist, then you may need to undergo thyroid surgery.
3. Thyroid surgery (Thyroidectomy)
If thyroid hair loss can't be cured after several oral medications, then you may need to seek surgical help. Thyroid surgery involves removing your thyroid's affected parts to prevent the adverse effects of hyperthyroidism, goiter, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. Though the surgery is safe, you still need to take precautions before and after the operation to avoid complications.
4. A healthy dose of iodine intake
Your thyroid gland needs enough iodine for the formation and production of thyroid hormones. However, an excess of iodine intake can lead to hyperthyroidism, while a lack of iodine can cause hypothyroidism. Thus, you need to be conscious of how much iodine your body uptakes to avoid having thyroid issues and thyroid hair loss.
Your body does not naturally produce iodine. Therefore, you need to include iodine-enriched foods in your everyday diet for a healthy dose of iodine.
Where can you get your daily amount of iodine? Besides saltwater, iodized table salt is one of the iodine's common sources and it can be found in any kitchen. Getting your iodine share is a piece of cake; sprinkle some salt on any dish, and you're good to go. You can also get your dietary iodine from dairy products, such as cow's milk, frozen yogurt, ice cream, and soy milk. Eggs, bread, seafood, and meat are also your other sources of iodine.
Prevention is Better Than Cure: What Can I Do to Prevent It?
Taking good care of your body can avert health-related problems. Therefore, you must avoid all possible factors that can trigger thyroid issues and cause hair loss. Here are four ways to prevent experiencing thyroid hair loss.
1. Say no to cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking.
Your lifestyle can affect your body's internal processes. Thus, it would be best to avoid habits that can harm your body, such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. According to studies, smoking has been negatively associated with a severe thyroid disorder known as the Graves' disease. Therefore, if you don't want critical thyroid complications, stop smoking as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, alcohol consumption has its pros and cons. Since it can inhibit your thyroid from producing hormones, it can play a significant role in alleviating hyperthyroidism. Drinking alcohol is also said to destroy the thyroid cells surrounding the gland. However, excessive drinking is also harmful to your other organs, especially your liver. People suffering from hypothyroidism should also cut off from drinking alcohol since this vice can even lower your thyroid hormonal levels.
2. Enrich your diet with iodine to treat hypothyroidism.
Low iodine levels in the body could signify low thyroid hormonal levels. Hence, treat yourself with iodine-loaded foods to keep your thyroid hormones in check. Include a hearty supply of dairy products, lean meat, seafood meat, and gluten-free grains in your daily diet.
3. Boost your thyroid's hormonal production with selenium and zinc.
In addition to iodine, you also need the minerals selenium and zinc to stimulate thyroid hormone production. These minerals can also protect your thyroid from free radical damage. Hence, do not forget to eat foods rich in selenium, such as eggs, sardines, and legumes. Also, get your ample dose of zinc from nuts, beans, chicken, beef, crabs, and lobster.
4. Avoid eating sugary foods to regulate thyroid hormone production.
Sugary foods can be harmful to the body in so many ways, such as slowing down thyroid hormonal conversion. As a result, your thyroid hormones are not adequate to regulate the body's different biological activities, including your hair growth. High sugar levels can also cause hyperglycemia, a condition that can destroy your blood vessels, thereby preventing blood from reaching and supplying your follicles with oxygen.
5. Use the best hair growth products to boost thickness and strength.
Aside from improving your diet, it is also essential to fight off thyroid hair loss symptoms with the best hair growth products. Free radicals can weaken your follicles, thereby thinning your locks. Therefore, your favorite shampoo and conditioner must be made with vitamin C-enriched ingredients, such as citrus fruits, blueberries, papayas, and guava, to augment your hair's thickness and strength.
Say No to Thyroid Hair Loss.
Hormonal imbalance is one of the biggest threats for your mane. Thus, never allow thyroid problems to cause havoc on your locks. Keep yourself healthy and take good care of your locks with the help of the best anti-hair loss treatments.
You can avoid thyroid hair loss by improving your lifestyle. Discover more about smoking's adverse effects on your hair and 15 ways to stop hair loss. Do not forget to use the best hair growth products to curb your hair loss problems.