I've been lurking on this site for a while because I've been feeling awful the past five months. I figured I'd share my story before asking my question because I've had one hell of a time and am still working on getting better. Here goes:
I noticed my hair falling out more frequently around November, but when I talked to doctors and my family about it, they told me everything was fine and that I was just being paranoid. Then I started feeling lightheaded, like, all the time. I thought that I was dehydrated and that it was the excessive amount of coffee I was drinking. I cut back on coffee and started drinking about 10 glasses of water a day. I'm a college student, so having lightheadedness and concentration issues is really difficult - especially during finals. I knew that something was wrong with me, even though other people didn't think so.
All of this continued, until finally I went to the dermatologist for a routine mole check-up. I told her about my hair issues, and she confirmed my fears that my hair did look a little thin. As a 19 year old with thin/fine hair as it is, this was basically a huge blow. She ran some blood work on me, nothing that I hadn't gotten done before, and I was sure that everything would come back normal, again. I had just gotten a thyroid and anemia test an they both came back fine. When I got the results from the dermatologist, however, I was told that my ferritin levels were low, which was causing the hair loss. She gave me some iron supplements that I have to take for three months. I also did some research and found out that my other symptoms of lightheadedness and fatigue were also probably due to the low ferritin levels.
So now, I've just started taking the supplements, and trying to eat lots of iron rich foods, but the problem is that I'm still loosing tons of hair. I notice it starting to thin in front and it's getting harder to style. I'm afraid that it will start to show soon, before the iron supplements can get my hair back to it's normal growth.
My question is: is there something I can do to help with my hair loss besides taking the iron supplement? Also, how long does it normally take for the hair loss to get better?
Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated, and sorry about this insanely long message. Thanks for any help and support...
My hair started shedding a lot also in November. I went to see my doctor at the end of November, had some blood work done and it came back that I was severely anemic with a ferritin level of <5! On Nov. 30th I started taking prescription iron supplements and have been going in to check my levels every month. As of March 19th my ferritin level is at 40. At the end of January when my ferritin reached the 20's I started seeing a lot of re-growth, but I soon noticed a lot of those little hairs were falling out (but not all of them). My hematologist said that they wouldn't grow into terminal hairs until my levels were much higher. A month ago I noticed I was getting A LOT MORE re-growth...all over my head! Now a lot of these hairs are almost 1/2 inch to 2 inches long! Even though I'm still shedding I'm happy to see all these new little hairs poking out all over my scalp. I have also noticed that my hair is softer and healthier, and even though I've lost about 40% of my hair...it's looking more bouncy and pretty. I'm hoping once my levels get higher, the shedding will stop and more re-growth will come in. My hematologist wants me at 100, so I still have a ways to go.
I've been taking my iron pills as soon as I wake up on an empty stomach along with L-Lysine (it's suppose to help with absorption). I also started taking a multi-vitamin and Andrew Lessman's hair, skin and nail vitamins. I also started eating a lot healthier and exercising. Make sure not to take your iron supplements with calcium, tea or coffee since it inhibits absorption.
Just hang in there and little by little things should get better. I'm still working my way up the ferritin ladder and hoping things will continue to get better and better. I will keep my fingers crossed for the both of us!
Take care and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!
Thanks for your response - I didn't know that about the coffee and calcium - because I usually have coffee every morning at about the same time I take the iron supplement. I am starting to see some improvement, but that could also be because I just recently cut off my hair (it used to be pretty long). But its definitely nice to know that there are things I do to help with the absorption. Do you have stomach problems when you take the supplement on an empty stomach? I feel like I would get sick if I did that....
Yean, coffee and tea, they both have tannins which inhibit iron absorption - so you want to have your coffee atleast 2 hours after you take your iron supplement.
In the beginning when I started taking the supplements I would feel a little nauseas and my stomach would hurt. But within a 2 weeks all those symptoms were gone. I've been taking iron for 5 months now and I'll be checking my ferritin levels in a few weeks.
My ferritin was not that low, it was at a 33, but I definitely got all the bad effects. That's why it was so hard to find something wrong with me, because nothing was really "abnormal" but I felt bad almost all the time - plus the unfortunate hair loss.
Thanks again for the coffee and tea advice - I'm a huge coffee drinker but I've been cutting back. I'll definitely try to take the iron pills in the morning without breakfast, I take them with a light breakfast and a glass of orange juice every morning - but I'm willing to try most anything to get my hair back to normal!
I had the exact same thing. Turned out my iron, mag, d was low and i was hypothyroid.
Its most likely that you have a thyroid issue: thinning, limp hair, complete exhaustion, spacy, depressed, tiredness won't go no matter how much sleep, nails won't grow, sore throat, dry/dull skin and the weirdest but most specific sign of thyroid problem, the outer edge of your eyebrows thinning or disappearing!
Go to another doctor. Its an absolute insult on your intelligence to tell you 'oh, don't worry about your hair falling out' and bordering on negligence. Consider a more holistic type doctor, they really pay attention to physical signs of possible medical problems
I've actually been tested for thyroid a few times (I originally thought that I had hypo because it runs in my family and I had a lot of the symptoms), but after getting my numbers back it showed that I do not have it. I think my levels are at 1 something - in the normal range even by new standards. It really was the ferritin levels that are making me feel like crap - but since I've been taking iron supplements I've been sooooo much better! It's amazing - so many things that were wrong are simply going away...except for the hair loss of course. But I'm beginning to see new growth, which is encouraging, and it's only been one month since I started taking the iron.
I guess I just have to be patient (sigh).
But good luck with everything and good job standing up for yourself! (I had to do that a few times, and to my family. It is insulting when you know something is wrong with you and others label you as paranoid. why do people do that??)
I'm so happy that you're starting to see some re-growth! I started seeing some re-growth around the 1.5 months after starting iron supplements. A lot of these hairs were falling off, but some have stuck around and now are 2-3 inches long! I read somewhere that since the hair cycle was disrupted by our low ferritin, sometimes it takes more than once cycle for the terminal hair to grow in strong - especially if your ferritin levels are still not at the optimal levels.
I gave up gluten and now my ferritin levels are normal. A gluten intolerance can lead to iron deficiency anemia. My ferritin was 4 and I had alopecia areata.
Iron deficiency anemia is a SYMPTOM not a disease in itself. You have to find the cause of your anemia before you start taking iron supplements.
Read Celiac Disease a Hidden Epidemic by Peter Green MD.
Hi, I was looking up low ferritin levels and found this BB..
I'd like to share something else I found which is very comprehensive. I looked before on-line and there didn't seem to be as much. I was a ferritin level 4 a year or so ago.. I had been in a building with mould and mycotoxins for two years and had many symptoms. Nothing else in my life changed.. I've been and I had been told I was anemic before, but often could still give blood, so my ferritin level must have been higher then. After a slow decline over a few years and then finding out the building was an issue, my coworkers and I moved out. I made some immediate recovery, but not enough for me, however was so busy at work, I wasn't taking care of "me" enough. My lungs were diagnosed at a capacity expected for age 97. My ferritin level at 4 was found later. However, while being told to "take iron"' litte other guidelines were provided.
Thankfully, a good friend on the West coast was working at a compounding pharmacy and she discovered many pregnant women coming in for "Bob's iron" which was a combo of the best bio available iron, vit B12 and Vit C. It came with instructions to take in the morning at least 1 hour before any food etc. and with plenty of water. ( or 3 hours after) Who knew! And it didn't constipate as much as the other iron pills I had taken. The constipation is enough to abandon iron pills.
Within a few months I was up to "just below normal". I then didn't take it every day as I worried about too much iron.. and as I was eating as I did before when I had onlymild anemia, I figured taking it once a week or so would do. I also have had extremely heavy periods since I was 15.
So going again to dr. as I was not "better" and I know my asthma is still not better even with meds, she tested blood again, and I had a ferritin of 9.
BTW- many years ago_ 2003, I got an odd virus that just about killed me, during recovery the specialist prescribed iron- the regular drugstore kind- which binds you- but I took it for a while then he just said stop.. After I stopped- my hair fell out.. I was devastated..
I wanted to go away for a winter vacation and my hair was so gross- thin and flyaway and crinkly.. I ended up getting braids, with added faux hair.. They masked the issue nicely. While I recovered I used clip on hair ponytails, and some clip in extensions. Be carefull of small metal clips as they can break delicate hair. I also religiously used massage and essential oil extracts.. rosemary etc. I can look it up again if anyone wants.. My hair came in and is super thick again..
The clip on ponytails were a life saver.. made me feel much more able to face the world.
take care everyone...
I'm back on Bob's iron, and if you can find a good compounding pharmacy near you, as them to make up a bioavailable capsule, with vit B12 and C and whatever else assists with absorption.. Be your own advocate, and researcher too!
The information is sound and professional and extremely important knowledge for anyone who is ill with this symptom.
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Hi! I have hair breakage and loss. The hemotologist said it was because of my anemia and 70 was too low for my ferritin, it needed to be closer to 100. For about 20 years I took iron supplements, now I just go for intraveneous iron treatments and use the M.Gardson's method . I see an improvement within days. . By the way iron deficiency, zinc deficiency and EFA deficienc are nutritional causes of hair loss
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Hi there. My hair loss started at the sides, I noticed my hair wasn't as full at the front. My ferritin when last checked was 26 but that was a year ago. Seems strange that doctors are not suggesting low ferritin as cause of hairloss when you need it to produce hair!!! and I'm starting to look into the Matthew Gardson's method, it worked better than I had imagined. (only started visibly growing )
"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." - Einstein
Wow I can't believe I am reading all these posts that are the same as mine. I have been going round and round with the hair loss issue. Mine has been thinning for about a year. I have also lost body hair my nails are nonexistant. I saw a dermotogist and she did blood work. Mine showed I was 6 ferritin and 30 iron. She didnt' tell me hair loss could be because of anemia. I had just seen my regular doctor for 6 month check up and had the same kind of numbers he never told me I was anemic. Finally I went to an endocrine doctor and took my blood work. The endo doctor told me I was anemic. At first I thought she was talking about perinious anemia anemic because I have that but she said no iron anemia. Still she didn't say it would cause hair loss and is checking for some other things with thyroid. I am suppose to take iron now and going to give it a try. I hope it helps the hair loss. So glad to read these messages here.
I was going to say if loosing hair is not your choice then gaining the hair extension could be your , It need just few hour to apply and no one can say that you have lost your hair. Hair extensions are so natural that you are gonna love it.
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The Following User Says Thank You to zohahunt For This Useful Post: atisun (02-21-2012)