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Is your Hair Loss due to a Medical Cause?

hair brush and stethescopeLosing hair is a part of your hair’s growth cycle. Most people lose between 50 and 100 hairs on a normal day. But excessive hair loss can be a symptom of some underlying medical issue and may be easily resolved. Here are a few of the most common causes of hair loss and some things you can do to change the tide.

Heredity

If one or both of your parents have suffered hair loss, there is a chance you might as well – especially if it is both parents. This genetic hair loss is known as androgenetic alopecia. In women it can occur as early as the twenties and the main symptom is a thinning of the hair just by the hairline behind the bangs. It can also happen in small areas on the entire head. What you can do for this type of hair loss is apply minoxidil to your scalp two times daily. For men there is an oral medication called finasteride. Consult your doctor about proper dosage.

Telogen Effluvium

In cases of pregnancy, surgery, weight loss, stress and with certain medications, you might lose excessive amounts of hair while styling, shampooing, or combing and brushing. This is a very stress related type of hair loss, and is often corrected in time after the stress has abated. However, with certain medications, you might consult your doctor and discuss taking a lower dose or switching medications.

Hypothyroidism

Having too little of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) commonly causes hair loss as well as other physical symptoms like fatigue, depression and weight gain. It is more common in people over 50, but can occur at younger ages as well. Taking some TSH, which comes in an oral tablet, often stops the hair loss. It also aids in controlling the other symptoms of hypothyroidism, which can be troubling.

Anemia

Women with unusually heavy periods or those who don’t eat enough iron rich foods may find themselves with Iron Deficiency Anemia. Some of the symptoms of this are fatigue, cold extremities, trouble concentrating and hair loss. A change in diet and perhaps an additional iron supplement may be prescribed, but consult your doctor. Blood tests may be needed.

Alopecia Areata

This is an autoimmune disorder with no known cause, but it is thought that stress or illness can be a trigger. Symptoms can be smooth bald patches on the scalp, legs or eyebrows. Complete hair loss on the head is called Alopecia Totalis and loss of all body hair is called Alopecia Universalis. This disorder is almost always treated with intralesional corticosteroids; sometimes minoxidil is also used.

The common denominator in many cases is stress. It is well documented that stress can, if not cause, at least exacerbate illnesses that may cause hair loss. A good rule of thumb is to work on relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga, and try to keep your anxiety level down. It may be impossible to eliminate stress entirely, but making efforts to stay as stress free as possible is always good for the mind and body.

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