Hair loss and baldness may not seem like such a big deal, it’s a natural process that affects a lot of people and besides, hair is just there to look pretty right? Fortunately, our hair has more purpose than you may think. It can act as a warning signal to notify us of something wrong inside the body and any disruption in hair growth patterns should be addressed.
Not all forms of hair loss are the result of genetics or old age, in fact, excessive hair loss or unusual hair thinning can sometimes be a symptom of a disease, especially if you have always had healthy, thick hair.
Coeliac disease is a condition of the small intestine where a reaction to gluten causes inflammation in the lining of the gut. This stops the gut from working properly and absorbing foods properly and causes symptoms including abdominal pains, tiredness and weight loss. Another common symptom is hair loss. Coeliac disease has been linked to alopecia areata (an autoimmune hair loss condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attack the hair follicles) but thinning hair and hair loss could also be a result of the nutritional deficiency caused by the disease itself as it can cause malabsorption of vitamin B12 and folate (pernicious anaemia).
Malnutrition occurs when the body is not given enough nutrients to sustain normal function. Extreme dieting or problems with the body's digestive and absorption processes can lead to hair loss through malnutrition, resulting in telogen effluvium and diffuse hair loss. Depending on which vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are lacking, many different symptoms can occur but iron, protein, biotin, sulphur, silica, B vitamins and zinc are especially important to hair health.
Cushing's syndrome develops if your body makes too much cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone which is made by the adrenal glands. Symptoms usually develop gradually, and so the diagnosis may not be clear for some time. There are various causes, and complex tests are needed to find the root cause of the excess cortisol. The syndrome itself won’t cause hair loss but if Cushing syndrome is the result of a non-cancerous tumour on the adrenal gland, it can also produce excess amounts of androgen which can lead to hair loss. Other symptoms include high blood pressure, facial hair in women, muscle weakness, tiredness, low libido, excess thirst and periods may become irregular or stop in women.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that help control metabolism and growth. If the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism), the body’s metabolic rate will become imbalanced, resulting in sluggish functions of major bodily systems. If the hair growth lifecycle is affected, thinning hair or hair loss can occur.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly called Lupus, is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in various parts of the body and affects about three in 10,000 people in the UK. Symptoms vary but the most common are joint pains, skin rashes and tiredness. In some instances the inflammation can interfere with the hair growth lifecycle, resulting in thinning hair or temporary hairloss.
What Should You Do?
Sudden hair loss is never a good sign but the main problem with disease-related hair loss is that other symptoms may be rare. If you’re the type of person who’s happy to accept their fate rather than look into the cause, a bad hair day might be the least of your worries.
In cases where hair loss is a symptom rather than a condition, the shedding can generally be cleared up once the cause is addressed. This can occur naturally within a few months for some cases, though if it is more long-term or permanent - for instance where a temporary hair loss condition in someone with a genetic predisposition has triggered permanent Male or Female Pattern Baldness, then there are various options for hair loss treatment courses.
Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, people experiencing thinning hair tend to make a self-diagnosis and high-tail it to the supermarket to pick up the latest herbal remedy for hair growth. Not only are they wasting their money on a product that probably isn’t clinically proven to treat hair loss, they’re avoiding dealing with a potentially much more a serious condition.
Prompt professional diagnosis is needed if you do notice a sudden increase in hair fall. A medical professional will be able to rule out any hidden medical disorders. Usually, once the underlying medical condition is treated, the hair loss will stop and hair growth supporting products may help to improve hair strength and quality, as well as promoting the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.