A lot of people post on here looking for answers for unusually large amounts of hair shedding. Approx 5 years ago i began my search on this board for reasons for this same problem. I admittedly was going through some long term stress and the doctor simply said my stress had caught up with me and had resulted in my hair loss. This kind of didn't wash with me after a while and i looked into hair shampoos, vitamins etc but nothing made any difference.
About 2 and a half years ago i read on here that low iron can cause hair loss too, which is correct, but as i ate an excellent and healthy diet i thought i wouldn't be low in iron. It ended up that i was very low in iron, bordering on anemic. It took me 2 years to get my iron levels up, but still had hair loss.
Earlier this year i found out i actually did have a thyroid problem called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, even though my previous thyroid blood tests all seemed ok and my TSH was even elevated too high, but doctors will say your blood test is ok so long as your test comes back 'within range'. Lucky my doctor ran a thyroid antibodies test, which discoverd what sort of thyroid disorder i had.
My new doctor ran some extra tests and i was not prepared for the outcome. Not only did i have the thyroid problem, i also found out that my pancreas was not producing enzymes to help me digest protein in my diet and he said that my hair loss was most likely due to malnutrition due to my body not getting the protein (hair is 98% protein anyway), on top of all of this i then found out that i had double the amount of estrogen i ought to have, my hormones were a mess and my adrenal function was very bad.
Now i'm on thyroid meds, enzymes to help digest protein and a pill a day to help my adrenal system function. Hopefully we will see more of my hair stay where it should.... on my head
So basically i'm posting to let people know my story and to not sit around waiting for things to fix themselves. As you can see, i've ended up having a range of things go wrong with me and we don't know precisely why, but have found out that the thyroid issue is genetic on one side of my family, but the other things that went wrong with me we dont know why they occured. If your hair is falling out more than it ought to, then you need to start looking at ALL the possible reasons and don't simply focus on one thing, get as many things tested before it's too late. Best of luck to everybody in this situation
The Following User Says Thank You to Audrey-B For This Useful Post: elmad (02-26-2012)
Saw an endocronologist years ago and he was rubbish. After all the doctors i saw i became disollusioned and didn't know where to turn. In the end i found a Trichologist (hair and scalp specialist). He treated me for the anemia and some other deficiencies (eg: vitamin D and iodine). He was also the one who found out i had the high thyroid antibodies and said it was Hashimoto's. He then referred me to a friend of his who is a doctor at a university and researches into my type of condition.
I'm not sure whether most doctors out there would have tested my thyroid antibodies <BECAUSE>my general thyroid figures were not off the scale and even my current doctor agrees that they don't look bad. It's only when you test for the antibodies as well as doing all the other tests it brought my true medical situation out into the light.
I was fortunate that i did a heap of research, which enabled me to find the Trichologist and then was fortunate that he knew another good doctor. These days you cant simply go to a doctor and expect them to work it all out. You virtually need to piece together all the pieces yourself and it doesn't help that so many illnesses share the same symptoms, especially hair loss. It does help to find a great doctor who wants to help rather than simply wants to take your money off you.
I have been on my new series of medication for 3 weeks now. I feel soooo much better. The enzymes i'm taking for my pancreas are fantastic, no more major bloating and discomfort around the stomach after eating. My stomach feels so light. Also the med's for my thyroid and adrenal function have helped clear the major tiredness and brain fog.
I now have to wait and see whether my hormone levels will self correct after fixing all these things as my estrogen is double what it should be as every single thing i've had (anemia, thyroid, high estrogen, non absorbtion of protein) will potentially cause hair loss.
Even though i've come so far, i know it will take a while for my hair to return back to normal. You can't correct something over night which has been going on for years.
This is why i would advise people to not simply hang around the hair board, but to research elsewhere. The longer you leave it the longer it takes and it can take years in some cases to get to the bottom of why your hair is shedding.
To think when i began all this years ago my gp simply told me to go and buy some Rogaine. What a joke. If you are losing hair due to an internal/medical issue, using Rogaine or those other topical hair treatments will only do more harm than good.
Last edited by ms_mod; 05-07-2008 at 10:31 AM.
Reason: Please always use whole words in your posts.
If you would like to read some information my doctor has put on the net, you can look it up by entering is name Tony Pearce and you can add Trichologist after his name. There is a fair bit of info there. He goes into what can cause hair loss and what vitamins and minerals etc are essential. It's quite an informative read. He also has a clinic somewhere in the USA, but he is based in Australia and he also teaches and gives seminars. I feel he is very knowledgable on the hair issue. Reading his info might help you find a good doctor yourself <BECAUSE> at the end of the day you need to know your facts so you can tell a decent doctor from a totally hopeless one.
Depending why you are shedding hair, a Trichologist can help in numerous cases, but if it's found that you actually have a thyroid problem, like i have, then the Trichologist would need to refer you on to someone else.
Good luck and let us know how you go
Last edited by ms_mod; 05-08-2008 at 08:31 AM.
Reason: Always use WHOLE words in your posts. Ms_Mod
Hi Audrey, I find this very interesting too because I've had hair shedding for years and I've been diagnosed with low iron but I went to an allergy elimination specialist who said I wasn't digesting food properly and it makes sense because I eat very well, plenty of protein, and I thought enough meat for me not to have an iron problem or any sort of other deficiency. He also diagnosed adrenal fatigue and prescribed a product containing, among many other things - iodine for my thyroid. Like you my thyroid tests always came back within normal range but I seem to have lots of symptoms of hypothyroidism (lethargy, weight gain, cold hands/feet). Thanks for sharing your info. I work for a dermatologist and was all ready to go to him and ask for some Rogaine but I don't think I will now. I think I'll just sit tight and wait and see what happens. The allergy guy also gave me digestive enzymes (though vegetarian ones, not the ones made from pigs). Incidentally, I had pancreatitis when I was in my mid twenties and I wonder if this affected my pancreatic function.
Hi Trixibel - I agree, our situations are very similar. Apparently the over the counter enzymes aren't as effective for people who have a more serious condition. I have tried enzymes purchased from a health food store (and not cheap ones either, but quality brand) and they never did what these prescription enzymes have done and never made me feel the way the prescription enzymes make me feel. The health food shop enzymes were like i wasn't taking anything at all, wheras the prescription ones actually work as i'm not bloated after meals and my stomach feels lighter.
Have you seen an endocronologist regarding your thyroid? Has an actual doctor diagnosed you with a particular thyroid condition or only the allergy specialist? If you have a thyroid condition then you should be on either a T4 or T3 med or a combo of T4 and T3. By the allergy doctor simply giving you something which has iodine in it it may help, but not as well as an actual med which caters for your particular condtion. I think you also have to be careful of natural therapies which tend to lean towards iodine therapy as i've read and heard some negative things on that. It is common though to be iodine deficient.
My general thyroid figures, particularly my TSH, wasn't that high that a doctor would refer me on to someone so i went years undetected i'd say. Also majority of the symptoms, when you read those thyroid symptoms lists, i never seemed to have. My hands and feet are always warm. Even now it's just about winter and i still dont feel the need to wear socks most days. My hands and feet are always very warm. My only symptoms appeared to be low iron, tiredness, constant hair shedding/thinning, crazy menstural cycles. Iknow all these are symptoms of thyroid, but nobody made the connection until i went to see the Trichologist.
I spoke to my Trichologist to update him on my situation (as i'm now seeing someone else for my thyroid) and he wasn't surprised by all my health findings, saying that all the things i have wrong with me are very common for people with thyroid problems.
I expect it will take a while to see a difference with my hair shedding as it is being (in my case) affected by every single thing that is wrong with me, not just one thing. I have been told once my medication really begins taking effect and i begin to get better than things will start correcting. I will be happy to have normal hair shedding and normal menstrual cycles.
I'd say it's highly likely by what you have posted that your set of health issues can be interlinked especially as adrenal fatigue and thyroid seem to go hand in hand. Have you looked up the posts and information available on the thyroid section of the healthboard? I agree, don't waste your money on Rogaine as you are more likely to end up with side effects, while your original set of health issues will still be causing your hair shedding.
Don't give up and wishing you all the very best. Keep us posteded on your progress as i'd be interested to see how you go
Are you being treated for thyroid problems simply because of your high antibodies? I also have high thyroid antibodies but because my TSH, Free T4, Free T3 are in the normal range I can't get any treatment. Just wondering if you know your blood test numbers, i.e. TSH, Free T4, Free T3 and Antibodies?
Hi Jacinda - Yes, i'm being treated for a thyroid condition known as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. The doctor knew right away it was Hashimoto's as soon as he saw the below antibodies results.
My thyroid antibodies test results are:
Anti Thyroglobulin 85 but should be <60 u/L
Anti Thyroid Peroxidase >1300 but should be <60 u/L
My TSH has been around the 2.70 mark in the last year, but back in 2000 it was 4.38 and nobody took that result seriously, even though i was constantly tired, too much hair shedding, unable to fall pregnant, monthly cycles all over the place.
My T3 was at 4.5 and range on my lab result is 2.5 - 7.2 pmol/L (My doctor believes this should 'ideally' be 5.5+)
Free thyroxine was 11.4 and range on lab result is 8.0 - 24.0 pmol/L ( My doctor believes this should 'ideally' be 18+)
As you can see, it's vital to have the antibodies test as prior to that, nobody thought i needed medication. Once they saw the high antibodies then it all got more serious and things began happening.
On the other hand, some people might not have high antibodies and are being affected by their TSH, T3 & 4 being out. The thyroid is really one complex issue. Not to mention other things which quite often go hand in hand with thyroid issues eg: low iron, low vitamin D, low iodine, low zinc, low B group vitamins, messed up hormones, hair loss, bad adrenal function.
My doctor says it's quite common to see women who have a thyroid problem and have all the issues that i have along with it. He said you can't look at the thyroid alone, especially if you have had a problem for a long time and it has spread to other health problems.
Does anybody else in your family history have a thyroid issue or an auto immune disease? These things can be genetic and if that is your case you ought to tell your doctor so he takes you more seriously. If a doctor doesn't want to take it seriously you should find one who does.
Maybe you can help me out...I just turned 28 on Saturday and have been battling something. I don't know what. I've gone to 12 doctors in the past 2 years and nothing. Every lab comes back in range (low vit D and iron a year ago~ retested and looked better). For the past year I have lot half my hair, gone months with no periods. If I do have one it last a day, very light with brown blood. I've gained at least 20 pounds and am very active. I'm always tired no matter how much sleep I get. My skin and hair have become very dry. Something isn't right... yet all the doctors tell me, that my blood work look fine. I feel like I'm going to loss my mind. After seeing 12 doctors (even in Stanford) nothing!!! I'm not sure what else to do or where to find a Trichologist?
Thanks for your reply. Glad to hear you're getting some treatment for your thyroid problem. I think I have Hashimoto's too, as I have the high antibodies also. But my TSH was 1.9 last test. It has been 2.2 and 3.4 in the past and my doctor said she would treat me when it gets to 4.00. She thinks if treated too early it could make me hyperthyroid, which is worse. I don't have a lot of symptoms, but apparently this is common when you get older. There is also hypothyroidism in my family.
I've read that if you have one autoimmune condition you may get another as well and I've recently discovered that there is a diffuse form of Alopecia Areata, which is autoimmune. So that's another reason we may have hair loss. It seems to be very difficult pinpointing the exact cause of hair loss in women doesn't it? Have you lost very much hair over the years?
Natalie - i can totally understand your frustration as i too felt for many years that i would never see the light at the end of the tunnel. Firstly, i went to a Trichologist out of sheer desperation due to my hair falling out. At first we thought it was due to long term low iron and we focused on that, but he also tested other things which he found me to be very low in (eg: vitamin D, iodine, zinc etc) Long term low iron can affect the thyroid, so when my ferretin got quite high (up to 61) he knew something else was up with my thyroid. I didn't even have ALL the classic thyroid symptoms, whereas just reading your list of symptoms sounds like typical thyroid symptoms to me. Once the Trichologist saw i had a definite thyroid disease he referred me to another doctor. I was fortunate that my Trichologist had an actual medical background prior to becoming a Trichologist. Some only do a short 2 month course and wont have the expertise of an extensive medical background.
Have you got a copy of your test results? If not, ALWAYS get a copy. If you do have a copy can you post exactly what thyroid tests were done. Some doctors only do a TSH, rarely do they get TSH, T3, T4 and even more rarely do they do a Thyroid Antibodies test. The other must with the thyroid is the iodine test and not a blood test, but a urine test.
Your TSH doesn't have to be out by much to suffer thyroid related symptoms. The problem is that if the thyroid is affected, it in turn will affect other things, eg: your adrenals, your hormones, malabsorbtion of nutrients.
I'd say your doctors are simply seeing that your results have come back 'within range' and are blowing you off. Within range means nothing. In some things you need to be at the high end and in others you need to be at the low end and in some things you need to be above or below a specific figure.
First thing is to get a copy of all your results and post your thyroid figures in the Thyroid section of the boards if you are uncertain where you stand. There are a number of excellent people on the board who really know their stuff regarding thyroid issues.
Hi Jacinda - My TSH has gone up down and around constantly since 1998. I can't believe your doctor is not going to test your antibodies and is willing to wait till your TSH hits a 4!!! Your doctor ought to be concerned and not only testing your antibodies, but testing that you don't have Graves. Some people are unfortunate to have both Graves and Hashimoto's.
Saying that treating you at this point could predispose you to becoming hyperthyroid is a load of rubbish. Leaving your thyroid to battle along until it drops dead will do more damage. Besides, treating you now is only going to be doing what a healthy and normal thyroid would be doing anyway. The thyroid drugs actually help or in some cases take over and do what the thyroid would be doing if it were capable.
I feel that i got so bad and only added to my health issues due to it taking sooooo long for somebody to test my antibodies. Now i feel i have more things to sort out rather than if i had been diagnosed a while back it could have been easier and i would have had more of my hair, instead of losing well over half of it. Not to mention what the Hashimoto's did to me psychologically, emotionally and mentally prior to being diagnosed. In the end i'm left with not only taking thyroid meds, but battling constant iron issues (iron wont stay high enough without daily iron supplements), with every meal i have to take the digestive enzymes so i don't end up with malabsorbtion, my hormones will take who knows how long to correct, not to mention my hair.
This could have been detected prior to my hair even shedding when you look at my figures back in 1998. My current doctor could see precisly what was going on with my immune system and my thyroid, simply by looking at my blood work from 1998. Yes, i'm really mad, angry and pee'd off.
That is right, if you have one auto immune diseas it predisposes you to getting other auto immune diseases. Reading that on the net scared me. I don't want MS or diabetes or Lupus on top of what i've already gone through, not to mention that it predisposes you to certain cancers as well.
The problem with thyroid conditions are that they are often silent with no symptoms for a while and by the time you begin getting a multitude of symptems who knows how far things have progressed and how many areas of the body have been affected. People usually only become concerned when their hair starts falling out or they get a form of chronic fatigue. There is also the fact that thyroid conditions vary from person to person. You can get two people with eg: Hashimoto's and be affected in varying ways.
If i were you i would push for the antibodies test as thyroid conditions don't only occur in women who are close to 40 or over, but there are people who get it in their 20's and in some cases earlier. It depends what has triggered it within you as an individual. Once you get the thyroid antibodies done and they show as being high you ought to then have an ultrasound. Some people have only been on medication for a year or two and after an ultrasound find out their thyroid is in worse shape than first thought and it's virtually dead and needs to be taken out.
That's why i can't believe so many doctors are happy to simply let things slide and wait for their patient's results to reach a magic number, which in your case seems to be number 4. At the end of the day it's your call as you know how you feel, whereas for me it's looking back in hindsight and now knowing what i should have done back then.
I read this thread a few days ago and was intrigued by some of your info. I have been battling a "mysterious" illness for 7 1/2 years now and the best bet is that it is lyme disease. I say best bet because as you say so many diseases have the same symptoms and I'll add to that by saying a lot of diseases have very inconclusive tests.
The first 18 months of this I was very concerned because I had some numbness in the back of my head, neck, arm, fingers, and toes all on the left side. My neuro was convinced it was MS and ran lots of MRIs (only the first one showed a cloudy area about the size of a dime), a spinal tap, and numerous other tests. I was a week from turning 53 at the time which is kind of old for first time signs of MS. He sent me to an MS specialist who said it wasn't MS. So I just went home and dealt with it. I had the problems listed above for 18 months with no changes at all for the better or worse.
My family doctor thinking it might be a virus gave me valtrex and after 2 pills I couldn't see out of my left eye. The opthamologist insisted then that it was MS and sent me back to the neuro with a prescription for 1,000 mg intravenous of steroids (solu-medrol) for 5 days. After the fourth day my heart went crazy and the ER doctor said the steroids destroyed my potassium. On the second day of the steroids the neuro had me do another brain MRI convinced he would see lesions. Guess what, after completing the steroids treatment he had me come to his office and there were no lesions on the MRI and he threw up his hands and said he didn't know what the problem was (unfortunately they had given me all those steroids for nothing)so he sent me back to the MS specialist who now said it was MS. I felt like I was dealing with a "good cop - bad cop situation". None of the above doctors would buy into the valtrex and a reaction to it but I have since found that valtrex can do this on rare ocassions. I wished I had seen this beforehand or the doctors had taken 5 minutes to check out the possibilty of a drug reaction
After a few months post steroids everything started falling apart. What in the beginning had been disconcerting proved to be nothing compared to what I was now facing with really bad problems. My right side which had never been affected was now worse than the left and it is much worse now too. After falling numerous times I visited an orthopedic surgeon thinking maybe I had damaged something and that was affecting my mobility. He did some x-rays in his office and didn't see a problem and said it just might be MS but was troubled by the fact that everything was 24/7 from day one and that the steroids hadn't helped if it was MS. He ordered a brain and cervical MRI and had a neuro-radiologist read them and thankfully he said they were clear and it wasn't MS and he didn't have a clue as to what the cloudy area had been on the first MRI - he said maybe dust on the lens believe it or not.
I finally travelled from Dallas to Missouri to visit a lyme doctor who felt 99.9% sure it was lyme. The problem is that I think the steroids knocked my immune system so badly that no combination of antibiotics has worked. I was on IV rocephin for10 weeks and it was alleviating most symptoms except for the mobility problem but my liver enzymes jumped from 40 to 740 and he pulled the picc-line. I feel like my body is a toxic waste dump from all the meds and still wonder if I'm on the right track.
Your thread intrigued me because my hair which had once been extra full and shiny is now dull and 2/3s gone. Another problem is restless leg which keeps me awake at night all the time and I'm wondering if my iron wasn't compromised when the potassium was because after searching the rls site yesterday some people said iron helped. Who knows what the steroids did to my body. What in the beginning had been troublesome only affected maybe 1 -3 % of my life and now I can barely get around with a walker and have to use a wheelchair to leave the house. The past 2 weeks I have finally decided I have to do the research myself just like you recommended. I started with the steroids (solu-medrol) and discovered they can cause cushingoid (adrenal problems). Imagine that. I am now wondering if all my problems aren't from the steroids and my body chemistry isn't totally screwed up. By the way I had gone from 118 lbs to 153 in the beginning of this which is a lyme symptom. I stayed this way for about 2 years or so but now weigh about 110 lbs. Maybe I'm not digesting protein either. It all sounds too simple but it's a starting point. Thanks for your input. If it is lyme maybe I need to straighten out my body before I can deal with it. My biggest problem is my huge distrust and lack of faith in doctors right now. I had a friend call a few weeks ago to tell me about an integrative doctor (md/naturalist) and you've given me the push I needed to set up an appointment. She supposedly puts a lot of stock in hair testing and body chemistry labs. I'm hoping providence made me look at this site. I'll let you know. All I do know is that after 7 MRIs and 2 spinal taps within 6 years (last time I had these tests was 2 years ago) it doesn't seem to be MS.
Sorry for the length but believe me this is the abbreviated version.
Last edited by Betterdaysforme; 06-05-2008 at 04:47 PM.
You may have got me mixed up with someone else. I did have my antibodies tested, twice actually, as I said I do have the high antibodies. But my doctor told me there isn't a doctor in Australia who will treat me with a TSH under 2, unless of course my Free T's are also way out of range, which they're not. The trouble is how does one know what is causing the hair loss, as there are so many things, as you say yourself, that can cause hair loss in women? It seems to be all trial and error with medication before you get down to the real cause of it.