Hair-blowing Facts: Health Issues Underlying Thinning Hair

Hair loss on its own can be concerning enough, but did you know that a growing number of research reveals that the different types of hair loss can be symptomatic of serious health issues? While common experience tells you that thinning hair can happen to both men and women, what’s not readily known to many are the possible health issues about hair loss.

There are 35 million men and 21 million women who are experiencing hair loss in the US alone, according to the hair loss research from Statistic Brain Institute. Given the many people affected by hair loss, it’s important to know the meaning of thinning hair and the health issues at stake. Here are 5 underlying health issues about hair loss to help understand the root of the problem.

1. Setting the Record Straight with Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal Imbalance

There are several health facts on thinning hair of which hormonal imbalance is considered a leading cause. Contrary to the view that hormonal imbalance is more of a female problem, the truth is that it can also affect men and that it can take many forms.The most prevalent form of hormonal imbalance is linked to genetics and the hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Some people confuse DHT with testosterone, but the two are not the same in that DHT is a converted and more potent form of testosterone.

It’s also important to note that the variable hair loss effects of DHT on both men and women do not concern the amount of DHT. Having a high level of DHT is commonly believed to be the main reason for hair loss. However, as NuHart Clinic clarifies, such view is one of the recurring myths about hair loss. It’s actually one’s genetic sensitivity to DHT which causes hair follicles to shrink, causing thinning and balding.

While the genetic basis of hormonal imbalance can make hair loss seem untreatable, there are measures you can discuss with a medical professional to address the problem. Both men and women can explore hair loss treatments such as lasers and transplants, which are by far the most effective procedures in reversing hair loss.

2. Why Stress Can Lead to Thinning Hair

Stress Leads To Hair Thinning

Stress is an unrelenting health issue which can result in balding and other serious conditions. Today’s hyper-busy world is replete with stressful situations that can aggravate cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone that empowers the body to properly respond to a stressful situation. However, problems arise when a stressful situation is prolonged and cortisol levels shoot up. Hair thinning can be an early symptom of unmanaged stress, but cortisol dysregulation can also lead to hair loss, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, increased inflammation, weight gain, compromised immunity, and other diseases.

Although stress is commonly related to some unavoidable environmental causes, high levels of stress can also be caused by controllable factors such as improper diet and poor responses. When faced with a stressful situation, it’s a good idea to employ some effective steps that can contribute to hair care. Good ideas include meditating for a few minutes, exercising, and eating more of plant-based foods.

3. Is Your Thyroid Condition in Check?

Check Your Thyroid Condition
Photo courtesy of COM SALUD Agencia de comunicación via Flickr, Creative Commons

What thinning hair means for your health may be related to your thyroid condition. So, is a thyroid condition causing you hair loss?

A regulator of body and mind functions, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of your neck. When it goes haywire, the unbalanced production of thyroid hormones leads to a wide range of symptoms, which include hair loss.

Sudden hair thinning may be caused by an underactive thyroid and insufficient parathyroid hormone. This condition, called hypothyroidism, slows down cell turnover which causes the hair to thin and fall out. The condition has also been associated with chronic fatigue, brain fog, and weight gain. The opposite condition is called hyperthyroidism and refers to the overproduction of the thyroid hormone. The excessive amounts of thyroid in hyperthyroidism can also cause thinning hair in men and women. In some cases, hair eventually grows back once the thyroid disorder is treated.

4. How Spot Baldness Can Be a Sign of Autoimmune Diseases

Sign of Autoimmune Diseases
Photo courtesy of Sascha Kohlmann via Flickr, Creative Commons

Autoimmune conditions, such as eczema and dermatitis, have been shown to cause spot baldness or alopecia areata. Classified as a skin disease, alopecia areata affects the scalp by “attacking” hair follicles. This causes the hair to break and fall out. While hair can regrow spontaneously in some cases, a significant number of other cases demonstrate the need for diagnosis and treatment.

Proper diagnosis and treatment of spot baldness can be life-saving because it has been associated with other serious autoimmune conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis. Treating these conditions may reverse hair loss, although additional procedures such as laser treatments and transplants may be required for effective hair restoration.

5. The Lowdown on Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin Deficiency

Sudden hair loss can be traumatic, and the emotional toll can worsen if the health issues about hair loss are not made clear. While mainly governed by genetics, hair loss in men and women has been linked to lifestyle and health causes such as vitamin deficiency. An insufficient supply of vitamin D and iron can likely cause the hair growth cycle to shift into shedding phase.

To prevent thinning hair, it’s important that you eat quality food and avoid skipping meals. This can be difficult in today’s fast-paced world, but the likely consequence of a poor diet can be hair loss and productivity loss. Make sure that you also consume sufficient amounts of other nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins like biotin, as these are vital for healthy skin and hair.

The underlying health issues about thinning hair are various and can be serious. Thus, it’s welcome news that medical science continues to make strides in making us better understand hair loss. However, since hair loss can be emotionally distressing and overwhelming, it’s important for sufferers to rely on scientific facts about thinning hair. This allows them to make informed decisions on the appropriate solutions available.

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