According to the American Thyroid Association, about 20 million Americans have a thyroid condition. Thyroid problems are more common in women than men. In fact, one in eight women will develop a thyroid problem in her lifetime. Even though these disorders are very common, they can also be misunderstood. Many people wouldn’t be able to tell you just what a thyroid does or even where in the body to find it.
The thyroid is a gland found at the base of the throat and it's hormone production affects almost every single metabolic process in your body. When the production of the thyroid hormone is abnormal, you have a thyroid disorder. Hypothyroidism is an under active or under producing thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism is an overactive or overproducing thyroid gland. Both of these conditions can cause dry brittle hair or even hair thinning and hair loss. In fact, thyroid malfunction is one of the most common causes of hair loss.
Do You Have a Thyroid Problem?
Thyroid malfunction can be detected through a blood test. A blood test can show if levels of hormones, called T3 and T4, are too high or too low. If you are experiencing any of the below symptoms, speak to your doctor.
- Changes in mood, including nervousness and irritability
- Intolerance to temperatures (i.e. too hot or too cold)
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Abnormal menstruation in women
- Dry or brittle hair
- A visible lump at the base of the throat
If you are diagnosed with thyroid disease, it is very treatable. Be aware, though, it may take time and trial and error with medication to regulate hormone levels.
Hair Thinning or Loss
Both overactive and under active thyroids can contribute to hair thinning or loss. You shouldn’t expect to see large bald patches with a thyroid issue. The thinning occurs all over the head. For some background information, hair growth happens in a cycle. A hair follicle starts under the skin of the scalp. As it grows, it pushes through the skin. The strand of hair continues to grow until it falls out. The cycle then repeats and a new strand replaces it.
As mentioned before, thyroid hormones affect many processes in the body. With a thyroid hormone imbalance, new hair may not grow to replace what is lost. This leads to hair thinning and if not treated, hair loss. Thankfully, you can reverse hair loss caused by thyroid issues. Once medical treatment has begun, the body can begin the normal hair growth process. It’s important to note that it may be several months before any real change is noticeable. The right level of medication and time will restore hair to its former glory.
Do you have any thyroid issues? Have you experienced hair thinning or loss? Let us know in the comments!