Why Is the Thyroid Important
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in our throats. It may be small, but it affects everything. Thyroid disorders can range from non-life-threatening conditions, such as a goiter, to extremely life-threatening, like thyroid cancer.
The thyroid is very sensitive. Any subtle or major differences can have extreme effects on a person. The thyroid touches almost every part of the body. It produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate as well as functions of the heart and digestive system.
The thyroid gland even contributes to muscle control, brain development, and bone maintenance.
Its functioning partially depends upon having enough iodine in the diet. In fact, the thyroid hormones Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) are the only compounds in the body that are comprised of iodine—be sure to get enough of it.
Can Thyroid Problems Cause Hair Loss ?
The thyroid controls many bodily systems and functions. When troubled, it can have drastic effects on the body.
There are two reasons why the thyroid can be in a diseased state. The first is that something’s wrong with the thyroid entirely. The second is difficulty with thyroid hormone production. Medication and surgical procedures are the two options for correcting thyroid conditions.
Hair and skin health are just one of many body systems affected by an over- or under-producing thyroid gland.
Hyperthyroidism (excessively active thyroid) symptoms include:
- Fast heart rate
- Intolerance for heat
- Increase in bowel movements
- Increased perspiration
- Concentration problems
- Unintentional weight loss
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) symptoms include:
- Poor concentration or feeling mentally “foggy”
- Dry skin
- Feeling cold
- Fluid retention
- Muscle and joint aches
- Prolonged or excessive menstrual bleeding in women
The body does not create enough energy for proper bodily functions when the thyroid does not produce enough hormone to make the metabolism function properly with regards to hypothyroidism.
When experiencing hypothyroidism and hair loss, vital systems and organs get the limited energy sources and hair growth is low-priority.
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Thyroid Disfunction, Hair Loss, and Stress
Seeing hair loss is also extremely stressful, and stress is linked to hair loss. Although the thyroid causes hair loss, hypothyroidism specifically is usually the main culprit.
Hair loss with hypothyroidism first looks like dry, thinning and brittle hair. If prolonged, hair on the crown of the head will become even more diffuse and sparse and possibly even affect other types of hair such as eyebrows and eyelashes.
Medical professionals claim hair loss will reverse once the condition is addressed or treated. Anecdotes also support this. However, hair loss is most of the time a multi-faceted problem with many contributing factors.
Does Levothyroxine Cause Hair Loss?
There are a number of people who experience further hair loss because of the thyroid drug levothyroxine. Hair loss is stated as a potential side effect of this drug—(it can even be permanent.)
Many hormone specialists or endocrinologists are very focused on treating the dysfunctions of the thyroid.
It’s important for disordered thyroid patients to be their own advocates and speak to other people who are dealing with similar conditions and treatments as well.
Online community forums or in-person support groups are great places to start—don’t give up and know there are supportive communities out there.
Unfortunately, for many of us with hypothyroidism, levothyroxine is a necessary daily evil.
What Can You Do if Suffering from a Thyroid Condition and Hair Loss
1. Keep a record of your hair loss.
It’s important to keep a calm and mindful record with the goal of fixing this problem. Do not become stressed or obsessive about taking account of the experience—stress does not help the situation.
2. Talk to your doctor and ask about being prescribed an NDT.
Again, your specialist might be focused on a very specific part of the condition. Explain that it is not easy to feel 100% better if there are negative side effects. The mental state is just as important as the physical state in treatment. Potential alternatives to levothyroxine are NDT’s or natural desiccated thyroid.
These drugs are derived from pig thyroid glands and dried. There are claims the side effects are less severe, although some professionals feel these drugs are less predictably effective than the synthetic hormone, because each pig’s thyroid gland has a different amount of hormone in it – because of this, there’s no way to be precise in the dosing. I personally have not used NDT because an endocrinologist told me not to. That said, plenty of people have made the shift and swear by them.
3. Take supplements.
The body’s inability to metabolize correctly due to thyroid issues can cause significant problems with micro and macronutrients in the body.
ron is an essential mineral the body needs. It plays a critical role in carrying oxygen to parts of the body. When iron levels are low due to metabolic activities or poor diet, again, the body will prioritize what parts & where it sends its energy. Hair follicles and hair growth are not essential to living – give them an extra boost.
Other nutrients that are essential to hair growth are vitamin B12, healthy fats such as omega fatty acids, vitamin A, Vitamin E, and zinc.
Hair loss supplements like Nutrafol are great all-in-one treatments that tend to include minerals, hormonal support, collagen, and DHT blockers.
4. Stimulate the scalp
Ayurvedic medicine purports the benefits of stimulating the scalp. Scalp care in western society is a new concept. Basically, the idea of scalp care and stimulation starts with exfoliation.
Exfoliation reduces build-up and stimulates blood vessels, which can increase hair growth—(remember what happens when the body prioritizes functions and does not send blood to the scalp?) You can exfoliate your scalp daily with a massager.
Scalp stimulation can be a variety of approaches. One approach that is very popular these days is the use of essential oils. Aromatherapists claim some essential oils bring the blood to the surface of the skin. Essential oils like rosemary and peppermint create tingling effects that are indicative to increased blood flow. Before starting any essential oil program, make sure there are no allergies.
Low-level laser treatments are also very stimulating to hair follicles and the scalp and a great thyroid hair loss treatment. This treatment is usually administered through cap-like devices, which fit over the head. Particularly great for patterned baldness, the lasers stimulate scalp and follicles so they go in over-production mode. This can help you make up for months or years of underproduction.
My Experience with Levothyroxine and Hair Loss
When I was 11, I gained 100 lbs in a short period of time, for no obvious reason. I could barely leave my room, all I wanted to do was sleep. I was lucky to have a pediatrician who tested me for thyroid disfunction and I’ve been taking levothyroxine for my underactive thyroid since I was 11 years old. I’m 36 now, so I’ve been on this livesaving nuisance for 25 years.
My hairline has been challenging for most of my life. It wasn’t until I underwent another period of intense stress in my early 30s that I accepted I was truly “balding” on my temples and my hairline was getting really REALLY high – I was wearing the same hairstyle every day to cover these areas and my threshold for denial was pretty respectable.
Once I finally said F– this S—, I wanna wear my hair up again, I dove into the hair loss treatment world. I’ve been using many simultaneous products to fill in my bald spots and try to reclaim some of my hairline. I discuss my strategies, thoughts, and thing I’ve tried throughout this blog. The main ones are Nutrafol, Rosemary oil massages every night, the low level laser therapy comb, biotin and vitamin D3, magnesium oil before bed, and DHT blocking shampoos. Holy crap, that’s a lot.
Will my hairline ever revert to how it was before, when I was a child? No. But with luck and science on my side, I can keep further loss at bay, and my vulnerable areas shaded in.
Thyroid conditions are complicated matters. Just as with anything, there usually is not a one-size-fits-all method to finding the best treatment program that does not have damaging side effects, such as hair loss or prolonged hair loss.
Being mindful and hopeful are two steps in the right direction. Having this positively conscientious mindset combined with self-advocacy is also necessary to handle this issue. Of extreme importance is finding supportive and empathetic groups focused on finding solutions.
Treatments are oftentimes combinations of different approaches—see what has worked for others. Many people have found fixes and effective treatments for hair loss. It is possible—hang in there.