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Your hair is actually an excellent biomarker of your overall health. There are a variety of factors—from illness to hormonal imbalances to poor nutrition to major stress - that can contribute to hair loss. If you're experiencing thinning hair or baldness, you need to get to the root of the problem to determine the best treatment.
The medical term for hair loss is alopecia, and there are two main types of alopecia: telogen effluvium and alopecia areata. Telogen effluvium is more common, but less severe. This is where the hair follicles stop growing and lie dormant, only to fall out a few months later. Fortunately, hair is typically restored within 6 to 9 months. On the other hand, alopecia areata occurs when white blood cells attack hair follicles, causing the hair to thin and fall out, usually in patches. This type of hair loss may require treatment as hair may not grow back on its own.
Hair Loss and Hormones
Hair loss in men and hormones are closely related. Men go through a similar decline and shift in hormones that women go through during menopause. For men, it's called andropause, also known as "the male menopause." Hormones regulate nearly every function in the body, including hair growth. Fluctuating levels of testosterone resulting from stress and poor diet can impact the body's ability to regenerate hair follicles. The relationship between testosterone and hair loss is due to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone. DHT can cause hair follicles to regress and die, resulting in premature balding. Specifically, DHT shortens the growth cycle of your hair and increases the resting cycle. Over time, hair in these locations grows less and becomes shorter until it simply does not grow anymore. Genes can make certain hair follicles (usually in the front and crown of the head) especially sensitive to this hormone. Furthermore, excess levels of testosterone often result in higher levels of DHT and a greater likelihood of hair loss or baldness. DHT is also partly responsible for adolescent and adult acne in men and for prostate enlargement in older men.
Stress and Hair Loss
Stress forces the adrenal glands to produce excess amounts of cortisol—the stress hormone. High levels of cortisol deplete collagen, counteract insulin, decrease bone density and can also lead to hair loss. High and constant levels of stress cause the adrenal glands to become overactive due to the increased need for the stress hormone, cortisol. When the male body is stressed, it also produces additional testosterone and adrenaline. Additional testosterone means more DHT which often leads to hair loss in men.
Hair Loss and Thyroid Imbalance
Hair loss is a typical symptom of thyroid disorders. Thyroid disease a form of hormonal imbalance and when the thyroid gland isn't functioning properly, other hormones throughout the body are affected as a result. Thyroid-related hair loss is often preceded by changes in the hair's texture, usually becoming dry, coarse, and easily tangled. Facial and body hair growth can also be stunted by a thyroid imbalance. In fact, a symptom unique to hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) is thinning of the outer edge of the eyebrows.
Nutrition Deficiencies and Hair Loss
Balanced nutrition is the key to optimal overall health. It's crucial that you're getting enough of the essential vitamins, minerals,and nutrients that your body needs to ensure that all your organs, tissues, and cells are functioning properly. Protein, iron, zinc, and biotin deficiencies have all been linked to hair loss in men. In addition to nutritional deficiencies, excessive levels of certain nutrients, such as vitamin A or carotene can also cause premature male pattern baldness.
Hair Loss Due to Medication
Hair loss is a common side effect of a variety of medications. Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants), antidepressants, beta blockers, NSAIDS, and vitamin A-based drugs (retinoids) have all been linked thinning of the hair or baldness. Chemotherapy is also known for causing hair loss—often the loss of body and facial as well. However, as with chemotherapy, the hair follicles will re-grow once you've stopped using whatever medication was causing the hair loss.
The Solution: Hair Loss Treatment
The connection between hormones and hair loss is definitive. The state-of-the-art tests used by BodyLogicMD affiliated physicians assesses your testosterone, DHT, thyroid hormones, and cortisol to help you determine if your hair loss is hormonal or genetic. If hormone and/or nutritional levels are imbalanced, natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy paired with a customized nutrition, fitness and supplement program can bring the levels back to optimal balance and can be an effective men's hair loss treatment.
While you cannot fight your genes, you can fight the effects of aging and hormonal imbalance. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy with bioidentical hormone doctors has the possibility to not only stop or prevent hair loss but also may help you re-grow the hair you have already lost.