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Recognizing Hair Loss Due to Thyroid Gland Problems

Author: Ian Irving

Published: 2012-03-15 : (Rev. 2019-05-12)


A change in the function of your thyroid gland will affect the chemical balance in the body which can result in changes in hair quality.

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Hair loss. It's so prevalent that not even wealthy, once-godlike celebrities (heck, not even pampered princes and kings) can escape it...

But do you know that while hair loss causes the same unsightly bald patches on people's once-full head of hair, there are many kinds of hair loss that are caused by different conditions. Your hair loss can, in fact, be caused not by the wrong choice of shampoo or stress, but by a thyroid problem. Here's the thing, though, hair loss caused by thyroid malfunction can be treated.

The human thyroid gland, or simply the thyroid, is an endocrine gland in the neck, consisting of two lobes connected by an isthmus. It is found at the front of the neck, below the Adam's apple. The thyroid gland secretes three hormones, namely the two thyroid hormones (thyroxine/T4 and triiodothyronine/T3), and calcitonin.

The thyroid weighs about 25 grams in adults, with each lobe being about 5 cm long, 3 cm wide and 2 cm thick, and the isthmus about 1.25 cm in height and width. The gland is usually larger in women, and may increase in size during pregnancy. The thyroid hormones primarily influence the metabolic rate and protein synthesis, but they also have many other effects, including effects on development. If you are suffering from hair loss, check out the list below to see if you are suffering from what is commonly known as thyroid hair loss.

Your eyebrows are thinning out

This is the easiest and one of the most accurate ways of telling if your hair loss is a function of a thyroid problem.

Thinning eyebrows can unique to thyroid hair loss patients, meaning it is not typically associated to that other common condition regarding hair loss - male pattern baldness.

If you notice that the ends of your eyebrows are thinning, then there is a very good chance that you are suffering from thyroid hair loss.

You have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Tendinitis

Location of the Human Thyroid Gland
Location of the Human Thyroid Gland

Those conditions you thought were just caused by your prolonged, nonstop use of various keyboards, keypads, and mouse can also be an indication that your thyroid is not functioning as it should.

Check also if you often feel muscle or joint aches and pains, or you feel your arm strength ebbing.

If those symptoms appear alongside balding, then it is very likely that you are suffering from thyroid hair loss.

Your neck is swelling

If your thyroid is swelling, it is only too possible that your neck is also getting bigger, because your thyroid is located in your neck.

This is very easy one to detect visually - if your neck is swelling even as you rapidly lose more hair, then your thyroid is the possible suspect.

You are suffering from depression or anxiety

No, we're not talking about you being extremely sad or worried over your hair loss problems. Think back on the past few months. Have you had prolonged bouts of anxiety?

How about extreme sadness?

If yes to anxiety, then this could be a symptom of hyperthyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid overproduces a certain hormone.

If yes to depression, then you could be suffering from hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid fails to produce a hormone.

Suffering from one of those two conditions while also losing hair can mean that you have thyroid hair loss.

You feel tired all the time

Fig 1. Anterior view of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the neck where it wraps around the trachea and is divided into two lobes that are connected by the isthmus, which crosses the mid-line of the upper trachea at the second and third tracheal rings.
Fig 1. Anterior view of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the neck where it wraps around the trachea and is divided into two lobes that are connected by the isthmus, which crosses the mid-line of the upper trachea at the second and third tracheal rings.

If you are getting a solid eight hours of sleep, and yet you still feel fatigued, then there might be something wrong with your thyroid.

Another indication is if you've also experienced insomnia.

You might be suffering from a thyroid problem if your hair is falling out like crazy plus you are also fatigued all the time.

There had been some crazy changes in your weight lately

Again, this does not pertain to you gaining weight from too much emotional eating caused by your hair loss.

This only means that you suddenly lose or gain weight without any significant changes in your diet or exercise habits.

A sudden fluctuation in weight coupled with hair loss can be a sign of thyroid malfunction.

Your close kin have a medical history of thyroid problems

Susceptibility to certain conditions, such as thyroid problems, sometimes run in families.

Check your family tree. If there had been a few who are suffering from anything which sounds like thyroid problems, then there is a big chance that you have inherited this particular health problem.

Of course, you have to take this indication with a grain of salt, because thyroid problems have been largely underreported and under-diagnosed so you must be careful about grasping in the dark here.

It is always best to check with your family doctor.

Your hair quality is changing

Another easily observable physical change is that of hair quality.

Any change in the normal function of the thyroid will affect the chemical balance in the body, which can result in changes in quality of your hair.

If your thyroid has any problem, then your hair might turn brittle and dry, and it can break easily.

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