Thyroid hormones are vital for bodily functions as they help in keeping you warm. The hormones also support the proper functioning of organs and muscles. These are secreted by the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland that resides at the lower front portion of the neck.
Upon failure, the thyroid gland undergoes an abnormal production of the thyroid hormones. The glands can either underproduce these hormones or overproduce them. The former is an issue of hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid. However, the latter stems from the overactive thyroid known as hyperthyroidism.
Common issues that stem from the thyroid gland
Firstly, one should note what causes the problem of abnormal hormone levels. Autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto thyroiditis often leads to hypothyroidism. On the other hand, Graves disease is the common culprit for hyperthyroidism.
However, for some people, whether hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, these issues lead to hair loss.
Link with hair loss
The thyroid hormone helps in the development and maintenance of hair follicles. Follicles are tiny pockets under the skin that enable hair growth. And when diagnosed with severe hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, they tend to go through hair loss.
Follicles enable the growth of hair. But, it is at the roots where the hair gets made. When the issues of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism persist, it shocks the system into telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is a condition of the scalp wherein the hair roots enter the resting stage too early.
However, what can be more problematic is that when one gets diagnosed with autoimmune conditions, there is a high probability of another infection developing. For instance, it is likely for people facing Hashimoto thyroiditis to develop autoimmune alopecia, a cause for diffuse hair loss.
Signs of hair loss stemming from thyroid-related issues
It is usual to drop 50 to 100 hair strands daily as a normal part of the hair growth cycle. However, if you find yourself losing hair in handfuls, you likely have telogen effluvium. It is most common on the scalp, but it can arise in other body parts. Those battling autoimmune alopecia are likely to witness hair loss in discrete, circular patches.
In either of these cases, one must seek advice from a General Practitioner or GP. Professional guidance helps understand if any additional tests are needed, possibly to help mitigate other grounds of diffuse hair loss like iron deficiency. You should also consider consultancy with a skin specialist for precise and accurate diagnosis.
There are several ways to treat thyroid problems. These are:
Methimazole (Tapazole) and PTU are antithyroid medications that block the ability of the gland to make the thyroid hormone. Other drugs such as carbimazole and propylthiouracil can have a reverse effect and end up causing diffuse hair loss. These make it challenging to infer the cause for hair loss. For instance, whether it stems from a previous thyroid overactivity or antithyroid drugs.
It is an internal radiation treatment often recommended by doctors. It works by harming the cells in the thyroid gland and reducing the hormone quantity produced by the gland. Radioactive iodine induces hypothyroidism, which is manageable with a thyroid hormone replacement.
This involves getting rid of some or all of the thyroid gland and can lead to hypothyroidism.
Alternative treatments: Do-It-Yourself remedies and lifestyle changes
Although people suffering from thyroid disorders require regular medication, there are Do-It-Yourself or DIY solutions that help curb the intensity of thyroid. One method is to resort to a balanced diet. Balanced and well-rounded nutritious eating habits help promote the growth and improve the condition of the hair. A healthy and balanced diet comprises proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, and moderate quantities of fat.
Food items to include in your healthy diets:
Fish – The omega-3 fatty acids content helps prevent dry scalp.
Dark green vegetables – Green vegetables such as Spinach having high levels of vitamins A and C help improve the condition of your hair.
Protein-rich foods – They help prevent weak and brittle hair. Dairy foods, legumes, nuts and lean meals make for excellent additions.
Biotin-rich foods – An essential vitamin, biotin helps in hair growth. Food items such as whole grains, liver, egg yolk, soy flour, and yeast can prevent brittle hair or hair loss. A word of caution: biotin can affect the thyroid blood test results, and, hence, one must refrain from consuming items that contain biotin for at least a few days before the blood test.
Calcium-rich foods – Food items filled with calcium such as milk and cheese are ideal.
Thyroid hormones help regulate bodily functions and are secreted by the thyroid gland. More so, it is vital in the development and maintenance of hair follicles. Upon failure, they produce abnormal levels of the hormone. Overproduction causes hyperthyroidism and underproduction hypothyroidism. One of the symptoms of these two is hair loss. The two main patterns in which hair loss gets detected are either telogen effluvium, wherein hair loss happens in handfuls and autoimmune alopecia. In this case, one loses hair in circular patches.
There are treatments available that help curb your thyroid problems. These are antithyroid treatments, radioactive iodine, and surgery. However, there are DIY treatments available too. These treatments constitute a change in lifestyle through healthy and balanced diets comprising proteins, calcium, biotin, dark green vegetables, dairy products, and fish.