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Can Hair Loss be a Sign of Other Ailments?

By: Jody Ehrhardt - Updated: 18 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Baldness Hair Loss Thinning Hair

Hair loss or thinning can be a very serious problem all by itself for both medical and emotional reasons. However, in some instances, the symptom of hair loss can be a sign that you may be suffering from a far more serious condition.

If you have always had healthy, thick hair that grows in a normal cycle, a sudden loss of hair or hair thinning can be a sign of illness. The best thing to do if you notice a sudden increase in hair loss is to schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she can run tests and perform an exam to rule out any hidden medical disorders. Usually, once the underlying medical condition is treated, the hair loss will stop.

Ailments That Can Cause Hair Loss

There are many different types of medical illnesses and ailments that can lead to hair loss. By understanding and identifying these conditions, you can better determine when your hair loss is just part of the natural cycle of life and when it can be an indicator of disease.

  • Malnutrition – this occurs when the body is not given enough nutrients through foods and liquids to sustain normal function. This lack of nutrition can occur due to a lack of available food, extreme dieting, or problems with the body's digestive and absorption processes. Depending on which vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are lacking, many different symptoms can occur. The B vitamins and zinc are especially important to hair health. Protect the health of your hair by taking a multivitamin that contains B 6 and B 12 and by eating foods such as, beef, dark meat chicken, pork, peanuts or peanut butter, lamb, and legumes. (For more information, read our article Diet and Hair Loss in this section.)
  • Cushing Syndrome – this is a disorder that begins in the endocrine system (glands). The syndrome itself does not cause hair loss, however, Cushing Syndrome can be caused by a tumour on the adrenal gland. These tumours can cause the gland to produce excess amounts of cortisol and androgen. Excess androgen in your system can lead to hair loss. Your doctor can run tests to determine if you have tumours or Cushing Syndrome and explain the treatment process.
  • Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism – the thyroid glands in your body secrete hormones that control metabolism. If your glands are producing too much hormone, you will suffer from hyperthyroidism; if they do not produce enough hormone, you could suffer from hypothyroidism. Both types of this disorder can lead to hair loss. When the body's metabolism rate is unbalanced major system functions can become sluggish. If the hair growth cycle is affected, hair thinning or loss can occur. Simple blood tests can detect these disorders and medication is available to treat the symptoms of the disorder.
  • Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – this is an autoimmune disease. This disease, which is also known as Lupus, can cause a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many systems and organs in the body. In some instances, the inflammation can interfere with the natural hair growth process resulting in hair thinning or Temporary Hair Loss. Again, a simple test performed by your doctor can rule out this disease.
Sudden hair loss is never a good a sign. And, although many natural causes exist for this condition, it is best to See Your Doctor immediately after the hair loss starts to rule out any serious or life-threatening disease.

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