As the years go by, you’ll notice a ton of changes to your body. Some are expected, while others may catch you off guard. Hair loss is one of the most common signs associated with the aging process. However, not all hair loss stems from aging. Lifeless strands have many different causes, but the least suspected of them all is thyroid issues.
The thyroid gland affects many systems in the body, especially hair growth. When thyroid hormones are thrown off balance, it may become obvious through brittleness and hair thinning. Learning more about how the thyroid works can help you determine the cause of your hair woes.
The thyroid’s role in your body
The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and sits at the front of your neck. It produces hormones that regulate many processes throughout the body, including your metabolism, brain development, hair growth and more. The main hormones that come from the thyroid are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
Thyroid issues occur when the gland produces abnormally low or high levels of T3 and T4. An underactive thyroid is associated with weight gain, sluggishness and cold intolerance. On the other hand, overactive thyroids lead to excessive weight loss, anxiety and rapid heartbeat. Since the thyroid affects so many different functions, it’s important to discuss symptoms with your doctor as soon as they arise.
How thyroid issues trigger hair loss
Hair growth is one of many processes that fall under the thyroid’s control. Hormones T3 and T4 play a crucial role in hair’s life cycle. Too much or too little of these hormones can disrupt the hair follicle’s ability to generate new growth. Once a strand falls out, the follicle won’t replace it. This is because the follicle doesn’t have all the components it needs to continue the hair cycle.
Hair follicles are embedded within the scalp, and they attach to tiny blood vessels. These blood vessels are responsible for transporting nutrients and thyroid hormones to the hair follicles. Without proper hormone levels, the follicles can’t generate new hair cells. Thyroid issues affect new growth rather than hair strands already sitting in the scalp.
Signs of thyroid-related hair loss
Thyroid issues share similar symptoms with other causes of hair loss. For example, someone with a thyroid condition may notice their hair is becoming dry and brittle. When you tug on them, individual strands easily fall out. Since the hair cycle takes months to complete, hair loss will slowly develop over time.
An underactive or overactive thyroid triggers additional symptoms that differentiate it from other health concerns. Unlike stress, aging or autoimmune disorders, thyroid conditions rarely lead to patchiness or complete balding. Instead, thyroid-related hair loss causes hair thinning that’s evenly distributed across the scalp.
When the thyroid causes hair loss, you’ll likely notice additional thyroid-specific symptoms. The presence of other symptoms can help your doctor arrive at the proper diagnosis. Common signs of an underactive thyroid include weight gain, lethargy, constipation and dry skin. Overactive thyroids often cause the opposite symptoms, such as tremors, irritability and high metabolism.
It’s worth noting that some people with thyroid conditions never experience hair loss. Mild thyroid issues might not affect the hair follicles. Hair loss is usually seen among severe thyroid conditions and cases that go untreated for a long time. Be on the lookout for symptoms other than hair loss to get treated sooner rather than later.
Natural ways to regrow healthy hair
Doctors prescribe thyroid medication to regulate hormone levels. Conventional medicine is good at treating thyroid issues, but it won’t always help your hair grow back. In fact, some thyroid medications have been known to make hair loss even worse!
Try these at-home remedies for encouraging new hair growth.
- Take an iron supplement: People with thyroid conditions may have to take more iron than usual. Iron is directly linked to levels of ferritin, a compound that affects hair growth. Low ferritin is often seen alongside thyroid-related hair loss. Increasing iron intake can improve your ferritin levels, as well.
- Cook with ginger and turmeric: Inflammation can exacerbate thyroid issues and their symptoms. Ginger and turmeric are praised for their anti-inflammatory properties. These spices also support healthy endocrine functioning. Since the thyroid is part of the endocrine system, ginger and turmeric may reduce thyroid symptoms such as hair loss.
Brittle, thinning hair can hurt your self-esteem. The good news is, hair loss caused by thyroid issues is easily reversible. With the right treatment (and some patience), hair follicles can come back to life and generate new growth. Not even a thyroid condition can stand between you and those luscious locks!