Arthritis, osteoporosis, wrinkles, menopause – with all these issues to combat, aging gracefully can be an all-out war for women to battle. One top of this, many women also don’t realize there is another problem that may rear its ugly head – thyroid problems.
Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism are conditions that affect more women than men as they get older.
According to the American Thyroid Organization, women are five times more likely to have thyroid problems than men. If you’re a woman over 35, you have a higher chance of having a thyroid problem – by more than 30%. In addition, women are as much as 10 times as likely as men to have a thyroid problem, according to specialist Robin Miller, M.D.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower part of your neck which releases a hormone that signals to you body to speed things up or slow them down. In other words, it’s your body’s metabolism control gauge. Your sleep cycle, energy level, and nail and hair growth are all connected to the hormone that the thyroid produces.
Thyroid problems cause your thyroid hormone levels to drop (hypothyroidism) or rise (hyperthyroidism), and one possible side effect of this imbalance is hair loss.
Thyroid And Hair Loss
Hair loss is not an issue that most women consider. Baldness is normally a man’s problem and most women don’t think about losing a few strands of hair here and there.
However, hair loss, whether it’s a little or a lot, can be the body’s warning sign that something is wrong with your thyroid. It’s not just loss of hair, but also the condition and texture of your hair that can be affected by thyroid malfunction.
Hair loss usually isn’t noticeable for several months after the start of thyroid disease, because it takes a long time for a complete hair cycle. Here are some hair issues related to common thyroid functioning issues and can be clear signs of a thyroid problem:
- Brittle hair
- Dry hair
- Texture change, i.e. straw-like, course
- Breaking hair
- Hair loss all over your head
- Hair loss on the upper part of eyebrows
Why is the beauty of your hair one of the first things to go when your thyroid acts up? Well, when your thyroid isn’t working properly, your body will try to conserve energy. It does this by redirecting energy from non-essential areas and directing it to essential areas of the body.
For example, when the thyroid hormone production is low, absorption and utilization of nutrients in the intestines is compromised. Therefore, the body redirects its efforts, causing your hair follicles to shrink or shut down completely, causing hair loss.
What Can You do to Restore Your Hair to its Previous Glory?
Luckily, hair loss from thyroid disease is reversible. Not by treating your hair, which is a symptom of this problem, but by treating the cause, your thyroid.
First you need to find out how well your thyroid is working by having your doctor order a blood test to check levels of TSH, T3, and T4. TSH stands for thyroid stimulating hormone or thyrotropin, and T3, triiodothyronine, and T4, thyroxine are hormones produced by your thyroid. Looking at these blood levels will help your doctor decide how well your thyroid is functioning.
Also, If you are taking levothyroxine and still losing hair, you may need speak to your doctor. Unfortunately, prolonged hair loss is a side effect of this drug, and sometimes thyroid specialists disregard this as an unavoidable side effect. At least until your thyroid is been taken care of.
Also, you may not be on a high enough dose to be effective. If your hair doesn’t recover after several weeks, go back to your doctor and have your medication dosage re-evaluated.
You may want a referral to a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist experienced in hair loss will do a complete examination and run other tests that may identify underlying autoimmune conditions (besides thyroid problems) that may be causing the hair loss.
Additionally, Portsmouth University did a study and found that 90 percent of women with thinning hair were lacking the amino acid lysine and had low iron levels. Meat, fish, and eggs are the only dietary sources of lysine. Speaking with a nutritionist may also be helpful in restoring your locks. He/she can help you lay out a diet plan that will boost the levels of hair-friendly nutrients.