It is remarkable how one simple, almost unnoticeable part of our body can affect our whole being when its normal functioning is disturbed. Much has been said as to how thyroid disease can initiate hair loss to those who suffer from it. There had also been many other evidences and studies that prove this, which is why it’s no wonder that along with the occurrence of prescription medications for thyroid disease are hair loss-preventing and/or hair growth-promoting products booming in the pharmaceutical industry. For any layman to understand the concepts of the thyroid disease phenomenon and its balding effect, you need to know the basics. What is a thyroid gland? Where is it located? How does it function? How important is it to maintain its normal levels of hormones? Such questions can be answered as we go along in discussing the thyroid gland and hair loss.
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The Butterfly-Shaped Gland
The thyroid gland or simply thyroid is found at the base of the larynx or voice box. It is butterfly-shaped, and it covers the larynx. The primary function of this gland is to release triiodothyronine and thyroxine, better known as T3 and T4, respectively. These hormones are responsible for the regulation of metabolism and in the functioning of the central nervous system. That being said, if any imbalance occurs, there will be a wide-ranging effect within the body, which includes hair loss.
Certain Conditions in the Thyroid Gland that can Cause Hair Loss When your hormones go crazy due to a thyroid disease, your whole body, including your thinking, your mood can be affected. Two of the most common physical effects of thyroid disease are weight gain and hair loss; whether permanently or temporarily, you sure need to get the right treatment for it. However, before you’d know the treatment, you have to know what to treat first. There are a lot of causes to an imbalance in your thyroid hormones. Here are the most common causes:
Hypothyroidism or Myxedema
This is a condition in which the thyroid gland is not releasing as many hormones in the body which cause signs and symptoms like fatigue, constipation, weight gain, dry and pale skin, and thinning hair or hair becoming brittle. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is swelling or inflammation of the thyroid gland itself. Just like any part of our body, if there is something missing, lacking or broken, the body cannot function properly, thus leading to signs and symptoms mentioned above.
This condition, unlike the first one, makes your thyroid gland release too much hormones that your body begins to metabolize at a faster rate in a short period of time. Hyperthyroidism is often caused by many different factors or diseases which includes too much iodine intake, inflammation, benign thyroid and parathyroid growths, too much thyroid hormone, and most commonly Graves disease. According to studies, hypothyroidism is far more prevalent than hyperthyroidism in the general population, but the latter is far harder to manage as compared to the former.
This is a complex condition that involves the growth of tumors which can be either benign or malignant. The tumors can cause disturbances in the normal functioning of the thyroid gland.
How T3 and T4 Cause Hair Loss
Normally, your hair experiences different stages in a cycle of hair growth. Some of your hair may be growing while some of it is at resting stage. However, whenever there is a disruption of the normal cycle caused by the hormones that initiate hair growth, you can also expect a disruption in hair growth. Other than hair loss, you may also experience hair thinning, or your hair becomes too brittle. The hormonal imbalance brought about by thyroid hormones T3 and T4 not only affects your hair but almost all functioning of your body; not to mention the psychological effects of Alopecia or hair loss. Some of the most common signs and symptoms in different areas of your body and body systems are:
- Hypo – Hard stools or constipation, weight gain
- Hyper – Frequent bowel movement, weight loss
Genito-urinary: For women
- Hypo – Menorrhagia or heavy and sometimes prolonged menstrual flow
- Hyper – Irregular menstrual cycle
Musculo-Skeletal: Joint or muscle pain for hypothyroidism Endocrine:
- Hypo – Cold intolerance
- Hyper – Heat intolerance, increased sweating
- Hypo – Thin or brittle hair and nails
- Hyper – Hair loss
Rapid, pounding and irregular heartbeat and pulse for hyperthyroidism
Depression, increased anxiety and more Since your hair completely depends on the normal functioning of your thyroid gland, any abnormalities can also change how your hair grows. It may cause too much hair to be in resting stage for a longer period of time and thinning too. However, you also need to know that while treating your thyroid disease, certain medications may also cause your hair to continue become thin, brittle or worse, you can become bald. One example of such medication is levothyroxine which is used to treat hypothyroidism. According to studies, one of the initial effects of this medication is hair loss, which will eventually go away with continued use. It is more common in children than in adults, and its prevalence is during the first month of treatment.
How to Treat Thyroid Disease and Hair Loss
Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, tumors among others are just some of the common cause of hair loss both in men and women. Now that you know what to treat, it will be a lot easier for you to determine what type of natural treatment to use with your specific thyroid disease. While it may take some time before you can see the normal growth of your hair, you still have options to wear a hair piece or changing your hair style to conceal your hair loss. The most important thing to remember is that you consult your physician for your thyroid disease to know what hormone or medication can be used to treat your disease and ask help from a dermatologist for your hair loss problems.
Sometimes, dermatologists may find atypical causes other than your thyroid disease. It is still best to ask the experts before jumping into a conclusive personal choice of treatment.