With over 60 million Americans suspected of having thyroid issues, it’s no surprise that many people suspect their thyroid as the cause of their hair loss. But could this really be the main issue, or is it more likely to be something else?
Well, the answer is; it depends. If you’re a guy and you’re older than 18, you’re far more likely to be experiencing male pattern baldness than any other form of hair loss. For women, thyroid as a cause if more likely, though there are many other factors that are more like to be causing your hair loss.
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, is an increasingly big issue for people to deal with – though it’s expected that this is partially due to more people being diagnosed. To put it simply, hypothyroidism is when your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, which can result in an array of health complications. Here are a few of the main symptoms of an underactive thyroid;
- Depression – Depression can have it’s effect on the best of us, and it comes without warning. It’s actually one of the more undiagnosed reasons for depression, as doctors often overlook an underactive thyroid as the cause. In some cases, if the thyroid is the cause of your depression, then thyroid hormone replacements will of course work better for you than antidepressants. Remember, you can ask your doctor for a thyroid test if you feel like you’re experiencing more than one of these symptoms!
- Fatigue/Laziness – How many times have you considered yourself lazy, but never really understood why? Well, there are a few possible reasons for your laziness, with a underactive thyroid being one of them. More than 80% of people with hypothyroidism experience fatigue and it can also be a sign of type 2 diabetes, so be careful.
- Cold sensitivity – Ever snuggle up in the evening with the heating on and still find that you’re chilly? Well, this can also be a sign of an underactive thyroid. The thyroid sort of works like a temperature gauge for your whole body, so if it’s not working properly then you’re going to experience different body temperatures.
- Weight gain – Weight gain is one of the more common side effects of hypothyroidism that you’re likely to deal with. Although your thyroid may have an effect on your weight, you should consider other reasons why you may be gaining weight too. If you’re a smoker, you actually make yourself 6-7 times more likely to develop hypothyroidism, according to some studies.
- Hair Loss – Of course, hair loss is another major side effect that can be caused by hypothyroidism. This is because alopecia is a common occurrence if you have an underactive thyroid.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean you have hypothyroidism! You can always check with your doctor to find out – it could be life saving (in extreme cases)!
What causes hypothyroidism?
The cause of hypothyroidism? Well whilst it can have several different causes. One of the main causes of hypothyroidism is an iodine deficiency. It’s estimated that over a billion people worldwide are deficient in iodine (not all results in hypothyroidism), so it’s not surprise that many people are now wondering whether they have an underactive thyroid. However if you’re in the US or Europe, then an iodine deficiency is pretty unlikely.
One of the more common causes of hypothyroidism in Western culture is Hashimotos Disease. This is essentially where your immune system attacks your thyroid, with the occurring inflammation ending up with hypothyroidism. You’re more likely to be affected by hypothyroidism if you’re a woman, but it does occur for some men too. If you’re wondering why this occurs – no one really knows. Some experts say that this is caused by a bacterial infection, whilst others believe it to just be your genetics.
Am I likely to have hypothyroidism?
In all honesty, no. True hypothyroidism effects less than 1% of people in the US, so it is very unlikely you’re going to be effected by this. It’s even less likely to have an effect on you if you’re a young person, as hypothyroidism is more prevalent as you get older (over 60s have the highest rate of hypothyroidism).
Now, there is something else which is called subclinical hypothyroidism. This is far more common than normal hypothyroidism, and effects up to 8% of the population. This is also sometimes know as mild thyroid failure. The symptoms for this are the same, but less intense than the symptoms that you’ll experience with hypothyroidism.
If you’re young and relatively healthy, you’re unlikely to have hypothyroidism and it is probably not the cause of your hair loss. If you’re a guy, it’s more likely to be male pattern baldness. If you’re a woman, then stress and other factors are a more likely scenario. It is however, very easy for your doctor to check if you have a underactive thyroid. If you think you may have this, then there’s really no harm going to your doctor and asking them for a thyroid function test.
How does hypothyroidism cause hair loss?
Whilst it’s easy to see how your thyroid is important for your hair, it’s not always easy to connect it to hair loss. Alopecia is actually one of the main symptoms of dealing with hypothyroidism, which explains why hair loss is such a common side effect of hypothyroidism.
A more depth explanation is that hypothyroidism is where your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones for your body to function normally. The food that you eat won’t be metabolized properly, which will sometimes result in hair loss and protein is an important nutrient for a healthy scalp. For this reason, hair loss is sometimes a side effect of an underactive thyroid.
If you want to start ensuring you do what you can to maintain a healthy thyroid, you should follow a balanced diet and exercise regime. This will help you not only to maintain a healthy thyroid, but a healthy body entirely.
Will my hair grow back after my thyroid health improves?
One thing that is commonly asked about hypothyroidism is whether the hair loss you’re going to experience from it may be temporary or permanent.
Fortunately, the hair loss from hypothyroidism is actually temporary, so you don’t need to be worried about long term hair loss from an underactive thyroid. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to have your hair grow back particularly quickly, so it may take several months for your hair to grow back. You’ll need to be patient whilst your hair grows back, but try not to stress too much as the majority of people experiencing this type of hair loss will see their hair grow back within a month or two.
Is hypothyroidism genetic like male pattern baldness?
If you’re bald or balding, you probably know that your genetics are primarily to blame for this. It’s also true that your hypothyroidism is also actually down to genetics.
Though the research on this isn’t conclusive, it does seem that this is one of the main issues that seems to cause hypothyroidism.
Hair loss isn’t always due to your thyroid, but it can play a part if you’re experiencing random hair loss. remember that this isn’t the end of the world however, and your best bet is to visit your doctor to see if you’re experiencing hypothyroidism.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can improve the health of your thyroid pretty easily if you follow a few steps. The main things that you can do with hypothroidism are;
- Changing your diet – By getting rid of the junk in your diet (things high in sugars) and replacing that with high protein foods like chicken and healthy fats like almonds, you’re going to help improve your thyroid health.
- Try a gluten free diet – A gluten free diet can help you to avoid hashimotos, as this can ensure that you avoid any autoimmune attacks on your system.
- Relax! – Stress actually has a big effect on your thyroid. Try to take the time to relax as much as you can, as you’re likely to find it making a big difference in your thyroid health (and health in general!).
Following these steps will help you to improve the health of your thyroid long term, which is certainly our goal whether you’re experiencing some form of hair loss or not.