Hey!!! Where's My HAIR? Part I

Hey!!! Where’s my HAIR?

Ok Ladies, lets get real! What is the one thing we value just as much as our Tory Burch shoes and Kate Spade bags… our hair!! It doesn’t matter if it’s long or short, thick or thin, brown, blonde, red, blue or purple. When it starts falling out, and sometimes in huge clumps, we freak out! We immediately go to our trusted health care provider - Dr. Google - for advice!

Dr. Google is never kind to us. We know this because any health problem we have is always typed into its search engine and horrible things, usually involving death, appear in the search results.  Before we know it, we have been diagnosed with some horrible autoimmune disease caused by our genes that will result in complete baldness and bad breath!

But lets get serious for a second. Losing your hair at any age is a scary thing and needs to be dealt with appropriately.  It can be embarrassing, cause your confidence to take a dive and put more stress on you, which you definitely do not need.

Lets discuss the three main causes of hair loss in women and what can be done to identify the problem.

Cause #1: Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t function at its optimal level.  The thyroid gland is a large ductless gland in your neck that secretes hormones.  The thyroid gland plays a major role in your metabolism, heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development and bone maintenance.   It helps regulate all vital body functions like breathing, heart rate and menstrual cycles.   So when this small gland, which is only about 2-inches long, begins to slow down its normal function, your entire body is effected.

One very obvious effect of an impaired thyroid that women notice the most is hair loss. Hair loss related to low thyroid function, however it is not usually the first or only sign that their thyroid is not working properly.  Other signs include fatigue, constipation and dry skin, among others, but when a woman’s hair starts to fall out they take notice!! 

Most women understand that losing hair is normal; all they need to do it look at their hairbrush or look down in the shower.  We need to loose or shed hair so there is room for new hair to grow.  Our hair grows in cycles and the majority of our hair (approximately 90%) is in the resting phase most of the time, while the remainder is in the growth and shedding phase.

When our thyroid function becomes impaired this disrupts our hair cycles.  We start to notice that more and more hair is falling out and our hair is thinning.  So what do we do?  To start, take a deep breath because there is often a clinical reason why your hair is falling out and I will help you find the answer

Testing

Help!! My hair is everywhere… except on my head!

When a women has noticed her hair is coming out it is important to check thyroid function.  Many women have had their “thyroid checked” by having a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level done.  A TSH            level is part of a thyroid panel but it never can tell you the full story. If you want to put your thyroid “under the microscope” and really see how its working you need to ask your doctor or provider for these tests: TSH, Free T3/T4, Total T4/T3, and TPO antibodies. The most important level being a Free T3.  Your TSH may be normal, but when you have a full panel done the other levels may be low or low normal.   This could be the cause of the hair loss.

Hope

If your full thyroid panel shows that your thyroid is indeed not functioning at its optimal level, your provider might start you on a thyroid supplement with specific vitamins and minerals to help support your thyroid.  Or they may start you on a thyroid medication to give your body the thyroid hormones it needs to get everything functioning well again. Treating hypothyroidism can be very complex and challenging.  It is important to understand that it may take months to get your thyroid levels up to optimal levels.  But the good news is that when hypothyroidism is identified and treatment is started, the hair loss usually improves quickly. If your thyroid is functioning well and its determined that is not the cause of your hair loss, the investigation continues.  I will cover the #2 reason for hair loss in my next post!!  Hair loss and Iron Deficiency!!  See you then. xoxox

Gratitude, Trust, Love & Abundance always,

Jaclyn Shedden

Natural Nurse Practitioner