Hashimoto’s and Hair Loss
Of all the symptoms associated with autoimmune thyroid disease, hair loss is often the most troubling, especially for women, who make up the majority of Hashimoto’s patients. Unlike other symptoms of low thyroid, hair loss is often visible to everyone, and the inability to hide it can have a dramatic effect on your self esteem.
In fact, hair loss is often the reason many people finally get to the doctor and discover they have a low thyroid condition. However, stopping the loss of your locks is not always as simple as getting treatment for your Hashimoto’s. While hair loss is a symptom of low thyroid, it can be primary or secondary to your condition. If the cause of hair loss is independent of your thyroid condition, simply treating your thyroid will not fix it. Other possible causes to consider are:
Your Thyroid Medication:
When thyroid medication is effective, patients can see improvement, however, if you’re taking meds for Hashimoto’s and still noticing dramatic hair loss, it’s possible the problem is the medication itself.
- Your dose may be too low or too high
- You’re taking it at the wrong time of day for your physiology (or with the wrong foods and beverages)
- You’d be more receptive to another class or combination of thyroid medication
- You’re unable to convert your T4-only medication to Free T-3
- You have a sensitivity to dyes or fillers in your current medication
- Your test results on thyroid medication are normal, but not optimal. (You can still have thyroid dysfunction with “normal” TSH and T4 levels)
- Hair loss is a side effect of the medication
Take note of whether your hair loss increased when you started or last adjusted your medication and discuss this with your doctor. Adjusting the dose, switching the class of medication, and/or adding T3 to your thyroid protocol, might yield better results.
You have Another Autoimmune Condition
Having one autoimmune condition increases your chances of having another, and hair loss is a common symptom of many of them. Hashimoto’s, Lupus, Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and others can result in a noticeable loss in hair. In fact, approximately 12% of Hashimoto’s patients also have Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune condition that results in circular bald spots (generally) on the scalp.
By working systematically to identify and remove your triggers to the autoimmune response, autoimmunity can be put into remission. The most common causes/triggers are leaky gut, chronic infection, food sensitivity, toxic overload, and stress. Functional medicine has variety of ways to test and track triggers to the autoimmune reaction.
You are Nutrient Deficient
Proper nutrition is very important to managing autoimmunity. Having thyroid disease increases your risk of being iron deficient, due to the way your body metabolizes and absorbs iron in a low-thyroid state. Consequently, low iron leads to low stomach acid, which is necessary for the absorption of iron, so checking iron and ferritin levels is always a good place to start.
Other nutrient deficiencies that can contribute to hair loss are selenium, ferritin, biotin, zinc, the Vitamin B-12 and L-Lysine, an amino acid. Restoring these nutrients to adequate levels with specific dietary changes and bioavailable supplementation can help your medicine work better and support any autoimmune protocol.
Your Sex Hormones are Imbalanced
There’s a proven interaction between thyroid autoimmunity and testosterone in women, especially after menopause. Increased testosterone and androgen levels can cause women to experience hair loss in the same way some men do (male-pattern baldness.)
Both hypothyroidism and some of the medicines used to treat it can cause an imbalance in testosterone levels, so a complete thyroid treatment plan should include testing and monitoring of the sex hormones.
The good news is, absent a genetic predisposition, the majority of patients can stop or even reverse hair loss triggered by Hashimoto’s, autoimmunity, and lifestyle and environmental factors. The trick is having a doctor that will work in partnership with you to find out the root cause of your hair loss and then individualize a therapy to stop it.
We specialize in treating Hashimoto’s and related conditions with inclusive protocols tailored to the individual patient. Contact us if your hair loss or other autoimmune symptoms are not responding to treatment.