Is Your Thyroid the Reason for Your Hair Loss?
Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ that rests on the midline of your neck, overlying your windpipe. It produces hormones that regulate the amount of energy you have for your daily activities. Both too much and too little thyroid hormones in your body cause disease. Both conditions also cause alopecia or hair loss. In some cases, hair loss is the initial symptom of a thyroid problem.
If you are experiencing unexplained hair loss, your doctor may request for blood tests to check the levels of your thyroid hormones. Here are questions that may help you determine if your hair loss is due to your thyroid gland.
Is your thyroid gland overactive?
Hyperthyroidism results from an excess of thyroid hormones. You may notice that your hair is oily and greasy. In addition, you may feel any of the following:
- Weight loss despite an increased appetite
- Constant nervousness
- Hand tremors
- Heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute (you may feel your heart thumping in your chest)
- Excessive sweating
- Bowel movement more frequent than you're used to
Is your thyroid gland underactive?
Hypothyroidism results from a deficiency of thyroid hormones. Your hair becomes thin, dry, and brittle. You don't only lose hair on your scalp. You may also have thinning of hair on your eyebrows and other body parts. Here are other symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Decreased energy to do your activities
- Weight gain
- Decreased sweating and inability to tolerate cold weather
Do you have an enlarging neck mass?
A normal-sized thyroid does not produce a noticeable bulge on your neck. If you have an enlarging neck mass at the midline of your neck, if you experience difficulty swallowing food or drinking liquids, or if you experience hoarseness, you may have an enlarging thyroid nodule. Thyroid nodules can produce too much, too little, or normal amounts of thyroid hormones. Because they can either be cancerous or noncancerous, it is best to have your neck evaluated by an endocrinologist or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.
Are you taking thyroid medications?
Your doctor may prescribe you levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid) for your thyroid problem. Levothyroxine may aggravate your hair loss problem. If you experience excessive hair loss after taking levothyroxine, inform your doctor so that he can explain to you your options should you wish to discontinue taking the drug.
Even if hair loss is not a life-threatening symptom of thyroid disease, it may easily be the most bothersome to you. The other symptoms of thyroid disease may stop after only a few of weeks of taking medications. Your hair loss, however, may take about 3 to 6 months to reverse. Be patient. Talk to your endocrinologist about this concern so that he can allay your fears.
Meanwhile, you might want to consider hair replacement options for people experiencing alopecia related to their thyroid. You may conceal your hair loss by using toupees or getting hair extensions. You may also benefit from laser hair therapy, a painless non-surgical procedure that stimulates hair growth by increasing blood flow to your scalp.
"We constantly hear from people who suffer from this disorder," says Hairline Express CEO Ronnie Talent. "Hair replacement technology can definitely help.. High end hair replacement studios use the same technology used in Hollywood- we can have the client looking like a movie star- so they can still look the way they desire, as they go through the treatment for their thyroid condition."