I'm concerned that I'm losing excessive amounts of hair, and am wondering about the various reasons that this may be happening to me. I'm an average, healthy 25-year-old female, and the rapid thinning of my once thick, voluminous hair is terrifying to say the least.
Just over a year ago, I had my hair chemically straightened (a reverse perm) and have had the roots straightened once since then. I thought that this may be what's causing the hair loss, but the more research I do, the more I see that this type of hair loss (shedding from the root) isn't a common side effect of chemical treatments. Breakage is more common, but is not what I'm experiencing at all.
I try to eat as healthy as possible, but could I be lacking something? I've heard that lack of iron can cause hair loss.
Also, I have been taking monophasic birth control pills on a continuous method (84 days on, 7 days off - periods every 3 months) since October 2007. I used to use a triphasic pill and took it in the normal prescribed way. Could all the extra hormones I'm taking be causing this hair loss?
I really don't think it's stress.
I have a Dr's appointment today to discuss this, but I am hoping that maybe another person out there has experienced something similar and has any advice to offer. Is there a certain type of specialist who handles hair loss? Perhaps a dermatologist?
I know loosing lots of hair can be very stressful, especially if your hair is already thin like mine... One reason you could be loosing hair is that you have low thyroid. That is very easy to check. Just need a blood test. That is the cause of my hair lose. Right now i am upping my medication so i am having extra hair shedding, which isn't good because i need every strand of hair i have...I hope this was helpful.
It could be the BC pills which are causing it. If you are on BC you should be a on a multi vitamin B also as BC pills deplete your vitamin B's.
In my case i had hair shedding for 6 years and messed up monthly cycles. Doctors were not interested, said nothing was wrong and simply wrote me off, telling me to go on BC pills.
5 years later i found out my iron was too low. You need a full iron test, one which includes your ferretin levels, which is your iron storage.
2 years later i found out i had a thyroid condition called Hashimoto's, which is an auto immune disease. A lot of people have this and the only way of checking for it is via a thyroid antibodies test. Majority of dr's out there will ONLY check your TSH or if you are lucky they will test your T4 and T3, but if those figures come back "within range" they will simply tell you nothing is the matter. This was my case, both my dr and my endochronologist did this to me and neither of them tested my antibodies levels. A lot of people will have fairly reasonable TSH, but will have high thyroid antibodies which will affect there health. This happened to me. So i can't stress more how important it is to test for the antibodies. Problem is that most dr's wont do this until your TSH levels have gone sky high.
After a few more tests we found out my hormones were a mess, courtesy of my thyroid. my pancreas was not producing sufficient enzymes to digest protein so i was hardly getting any protein, this can cause hair loss as your hair is 98% protein. We also found out i had adrenal gland problems and i was not only low in iron, but very low in vitamin D and in iodine and due to my thyroid situation i find it hard to absorb certain things so i'm constantly having to take supplements for the iron, vitamin D and iodine.
You have to be careful with visiting dermatologists as not ALL dermatologists are qualified to deal with hair loss, especially if there is nothing visible to the eye.
I went to see a Trichologist (hair/scalp specialist) he helped up my iron levels and he was the one who knew what tests to ask for and diagnosed my thyroid problem.
The BC pills could have disturbed your hormone equilibrium. That would not be the first time that that has occured. I have come across quite a few people recently who are complaining about major hair loss after starting BC pills or after going off them.
Hair doesn't simply start abnormally shedding for no reason what so ever. The problem is finding the reason. Whatever is the cause of sudden abnormal hair shedding will not be something that has only just occured. It will be due to something that has been happening in your system for a while, either months or years. The only thing that causes sudden hair shedding from the root is sudden/major stress and even stress can often take time to build and then cause hair shedding as stress affects certain areas of our body and can alter our hormones.
Whichever doctors you visit and whatever tests you do, you need to oversee everything. Do not simply trust a doctor who says your tests are fine, nothing is wrong. That is the mistake i made and i wasted 7 years. You need to do as much research as possible and visit other areas of the healthboard and the net and locate as much information as possible. Even when you have corrected whatever has been the cause, it can take months and months for you to begin seeing noticeable positive results.
The Following User Says Thank You to Audrey-B For This Useful Post:
Thank you so much for all your useful information! I'll definitely be requesting the tests you referred to if they're not included in what I'm already having done. This issue is very serious to me and I am not taking it lightly. I know in my heart that something is wrong; it's my hair after all.
Lucky for me I have a great GP; I'm sure I'll have no problem getting him to send me for all the necessary tests, even if he doesn't believe they're needed.
I'll be posting my results in the next couple weeks. I'm very interested to see what they find (or don't find...).
Well, I saw my Dr. last week for my test results...
Everything they tested for came up as "normal". I must say I'm disappointed; I was hoping they'd find something obvious and I'd be doing something by now to fix the problem. Instead, I'm still losing hair every day.
Last Friday was bad...I cried in the shower.
I've been referred to a dermatologist who also specializes in hair loss, so I guess I'll see what she has to say about the situation. I haven't been able to find any Trichologists in my area.
Audrey-B, are you able to tell me what specific tests you had done so I can make sure that I request the same? I want to cover all my bases with this. I can not accept that this hair loss is normal and I definitely can't go on stressing about it; something must be done now.
Hi, I read your post and I can tell you I feel for you, I had the same problem and didn't know what to do or what doctor to see. My gp send me for a blood test and find that I had hypothyrodism and my numbers were way high, a month and a half later I started my thyroid medicine the shedding stop, sadly by then more than half of my hair was gone. I went to consult a dermatologist and he explained to me that I had a shock in my system, either phyciological or emotional that caused the hair to go into a resting phase, called telogen, and once is there 3 months later all that hair is going to fall. Now normally 5 to 15% of hair goes to the telogen phase but in a case of shock 70% of the hair does leaving us with that massive shedding. This is called Telogen Efluvium and there is nothing you can do but to attack the problem directly, in my case my thyroid, and then it should resolved. I took me about a couple of months of constant and massive shedding before my medication kick in and stop the problem. You see what happens when you have a condition that cause shock to your body the energy goes to protect and care for the vital organs so the hair goes into rest and that's what cause the shedding a few months later the condition started in your body. I don't know if this is your case but this information can help you and may be you can discuss it with your dermatologist.There is Nothing you can do is what they told me, is something that your body needs to fix in time and when the condition that's causing the shedding is been addressed. I hope you can find the source soon and start taking care of whatever it is that's causing you this.
I did experience something quite emotionally stressful in October of last year, and was wondering if that might have caused the shedding. So many people have said that stress can cause hair loss, but I didn't think that was my problem because right now I don't feel much stress at all. I've always had a habit of pretending things don't bother me as much as they do, and I've done just that in this situation. Although I think it doesn't bother me, I do still feel sad about it every day so perhaps it was these deep emotions that shocked my hair into the telogen phase.
I just really want to know what it happening more than anything. I feel so lost. I'm sure worrying about it hasn't helped, but it's hard not to when your hair is falling out! Now I know how men feel when they lose their hair; it doesn't matter how many people tell you "it's okay" and "you'll look fine" and "I'll love you the same", it still sucks big time.
I'll be going to the dermatologist later this month and am hoping to have a list of all the things it could be to bring with me. I'm also hoping to know what kind of tests people had to figure out why their hair was falling out so I can request the same tests for myself.
boy can i definitely relate!! i began losing my hair two years ago... it sheds tons and then goes thru phases where at times it seems to be getting better... only to have another massive shed again some months later. i'm trying not to panic, but i don't know what else to do. it depresses me to no end!
to this date i've seen 2 different dermatologists, had 2 scalp biopsies and a myriad of tests. only to be told my ANA is very minimally off (1:40) and everything else is "normal"... i was on birth control--and two different ones-- over a period of 8 years. my gyn decided to try taking me off to see if my body could right itself. i'm going on my 2nd month not on the BC and of course i have massive shedding. i don't think this is normal, and yet i don't know what to do. all they do is tell me it's stress. granted i've had a TON of stress the past two years.... more than ever in my life, but when it's coming out in handfuls it's very disheartening to say the least and it comes at times when i'm not stressed at all! i don't think it's just stress... i have a feeling something else is going on and i don't know what to do or who to try and see to figure out what the heck is going on. i just finally today got a referral to an endocrinologist... because the scalp biopsies determined it's either telogen effluvium or hereditary ((cannot differentiate between the two)). i am wondering tho if scalp biopsies SHOULD be able to tell and i just had an inconclusive one?? all of my hormones came back "normal" but i'm wondering if testosterone could still be the culprit even tho it's normal and i have no excessive hair anywhere it shouldn't be and no acne or anything else. i don't have PCOS... and only my mother's father has some hairloss... both my mom and dad and all my mother's siblings have full heads of hair... HELP! i don't know what tests to ask for anymore, or what direction to go in... but either way i definitely want you to know you're not alone... =(
I really feel for you guys as i've "been there, done that" and am not totally 100% out of the woodworks yet, but my situation is improving.
I'm not sure what tests you have all had and what your doctors class as being "normal" or "within range". Don't you just hate those phrases
As you are well aware by now, loads of things can bring on hair loss and i seem to be coming across more and more young females who have been on birth control and have come off it, only to experience hair loss ( i wonder if there is some connection there??). Their doctors can find nothing wrong with them. Makes me wonder are their doctors getting them to do the right tests, are they interperting the test results correctly, have tests been done at the right time of day and the right way?????? eg: hormone testing can not be done via one simple blood test during the day as your hormones change throughout the day and it depends where you are in your cycle. They should also be done very early in the morning and you shouldn't be on any medication. Being on the pill will also give an unrealistic reading of your hormone level - unless the lab knows you are on the pill and what type and dosage so they can take that into account. Hormone testing is a tricky business and if not done correctly you could be getting a false result.
When i first began experiencing hair shedding and then a few months later my menstrual cycles began getting more and more messed up and were all over the place, my doctor dismissed it all and wanted to stick me on birth control. I tried 3 different brands and i had very bad side effects from all of them ranging from extreme depression and crying all the time to getting a small blood clot in my finger. I stopped the pill immediately and refused to use it as a 'bandaid' treatment. I also did not want to be on the pill as i wanted to track my cycles and keep an eye on what was going on. That all occured in 2001.
In 2006 i found out i was anemic and had big problem trying to raise my iron levels. Low ferretin can lead to hair loss.
In 2007 i found a Trichologist with a medical background regarding my constant hair shedding. In 2008 this Trichologist ordered a Thyroid Antibodies test for my thryoid and we found out i had a thyroid condition called Hashimoto's. He then referred me on to another doctor to treat my thyroid. He also, through blood tests, found out i was depleted in a number of vitamins/minerals and not just iron.
My first appointment with the thyroid doctor sounded positive. I explain everything. He ordered a "salivory hormone panel" test for me to do. This involved putting saliva into various tubes throughout the day from 6am to 10pm. This test was to see where my hormones were. I had had hormone blood tests years ago on numerous occasions and they always came up normal, yet i couldn't fall pregnant and there was nothing wrong with me or my partner. The Saliva tests came back and my estrogen was double what it ought to be and my progesterone and testosterone weren't too good either. This explained 7 years of messed up menstrual cycles which not even the pill would have been able to correct. I also had adrenal fatigue when they checked my cortisol levels.
He also got me to do a stool analysis test. This was yukky!!! but it showed up that i'm not digesting protein sufficiently and he feels this is where my malabsorbtion of vitamins and minerals is occuring. Also if i'm not getting sufficient protein then naturally he feels i'll be losing hair constantly. I'm now on prescritpion digestive enzymes to help with the digestion.
I did later do a liver test, but that was more for my thyroid condition and not to do with my hair.
To boost my protein (hair is 98% protein) he gets me to take some "isolate whey protein powder" in the morning for breakfast.
I feel that most hair loss is either to do with an actual illness eg: thyroid or it can be related to a digestive issue in which case you would be low in a lot of essential stuff, mainly iron, but other things too. On the other hand, i feel messed up hormones (due to whatever reason) are another big cause in abnormal hair shedding.
I have to say i totally agree with the reply arizo01 gave. That makes a lot of sense.
At the end of the day i feel it's not a matter of simply acceptin a doctor who says your test results are "normal". I did that for years and years only to find out that i really did have a thyroid condition and the thyroid condition was what caused my hormones to mess up and the digestive issues.
You have to get your test results and post them on relevant sections of the healthboard so that you can get more help than just from the hair loss section of the boards. When i first started out i began on the hair loss section and then someone mentioned "anemia" so i went to check out the anemia section, which is what prompted me to find the Trichologist who ended up solving all my problems. It's a chain reaction, but you must keep looking for clues.
What types of thyroid tests has your doctor done? You should post those on the thyroid board as there are quite a few experts over there. Has your doctor checked your iron levels, which MUST include "ferretin" (iron storage). A lot of people have low iron which their doctor appears to find "normal". Iron at the lower end of the scale messes up your hair growth/resting/shedding cycle too. A gluten intolerance test wouldn't go astray as sometimes this is what causes people to not absorb nutrients which leads to hair loss and low iron.
Has your doctor done a proper hormone test or just a basic blood test while you were on birth control? Did your doctor test ALL your hormones or just estrogen? Remember that the pill will change your test result.
So for me the deal breaker was getting that "thyroid antibodies" test, which showed my antibodies to be extremely high. All the other thyroid tests showed my thyroid to be out, but not sufficient for previous doctors to want to treat me as nobody took my actual symptoms into account.
I wish you all the best and most definitely keep us posted. Take care
Wow...as much as I would never wish this hair loss on anybody, It's comforting to know that I'm not alone.
The dermatologist wasn't able to see me until early October, but I told them I simply can't wait that long so I'm scheduled for August 26th. I wasn't actually given my test results for the blood tests I had so far; I was just told that everything is in normal range. I'll make sure to get the actual results from my GP next time I'm in so that I can post them on this board and the other ones too, like Audrey-B recommended.
I'll also be taking all of this info with me to the dermatologist so that she can make sure to cover everything.
I'll keep you all posted on the results. Also, if you have anything new to add or if anybody else out there is going through the same, post! I'm sure we could all use a little support in this hair loss battle...
So, I requested a copy of my blood test results from the Dr. I've got them now, but have no clue how to decipher them.
Looks like there are 6 different headings. I am wondering if anybody knows what any of this means, and which tests (if any) are even relevant to my hair loss. My next Dr's appt isn't until the end of this month so I am hoping somebody out there can help me figure out what all of this means and if anything here isn't actually "normal".
Hi ericanicole25 - A lot of your results don't appear to give the "range". Also bear in mind that different countries/labs can use different ranges. I'd say Canda and the USA would likely use similar ranges, but the problem is that some labs use slightly out of date ranges. Personally i feel all labs within the one country should be using a uniform range, but hey, if doctors can't get their act together how can we expect labs to!!
With your results 2 main things stood out for me. Your ferretin (iron storage) might be within range to your doctor, but i'd say they are at the extreme low end of the range. Personally i'd be taking an iron supplement of some sort now and see if your ferretin climbs higher by your next blood test. Just remember, don't take iron with caffeine type drinks or with calcium or zinc, take it at least 2 hours away from all those types of things.
Secondly thing is that you have only been tested for TSH for your thyroid. That doesn't mean much. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone and it is produced by your pituitary gland. My thyroid doctor said that testing TSH is ok, but kind of useless as all it means at the end of the day is that your pituitary gland is working ok. Your doctor should be testing your T3 and T4 and it would be absolutaly FANTASTIC if he was co-operative enough to test your "Thyroid Antibodies" to rule out an autoimmune thyroid disease. Problem is, you can have "normal" or "within range" TSH, T3 and T4, but sky high antibodies, which is what happened to me. Doctors don't tend to look at your symptoms eg: low iron and hair shedding also if you have been on the pill you wouldn't have noticed anything amiss with your menstrual cycle and the pill would have likely affected your hormone tests if they didn't take the pill into account at time of testing. Doctors tend to only look at the figure on your lab result, rather than your symptoms.
A lot of your test results don't seem to have a range supplied, but even so, i would be copy/pasting what your results over on both the anemia and thyroid boards to get the more technical help. You aren't anemic, but your levels are low enough to warrant taking iron supplements. Unless you are getting annual ferretin check ups you wouldn't know how high your ferretin used to be an how much you have been dropping year by year. I never knew how high mine was at its highest, but from the time i began getting annual blood tests it was 36 at its highest and kept dropping and my doctor never told me to take iron supplements. It was only when i began suffering severe tiredness and couldn't cope that i found out it had dropped to 8. You don't want that. The lower it is the harder it is to raise so i'd take action on that now. Ferretin should be minimum 70 and above for proper hair growth cycle eg: shedding, growing and resting phases.
If you haven't had a gluten intolerance test i'd get that done too. If you find you wake up tired or tire easly half way through the day i'd be getting your adrenals checked out too.
While you are waiting to see doctors and have further tests i'd still be posting all the results on the anemia and thyroid boards to get further tips to prepare you for future doctors visits. Their are some experts on both boards and sometimes i feel they know more than some doctors. That's not to say you should only take healthboard advice and not a doctor, but it does no harm to get as much knowledge as you can. You know the saying.... The wider the net........ Good luck and most definitely keep us posted.