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Medically Related Hair Loss in Men and Women

May 5 2015

Vern Cole

Alopecia is a broad term simply meaning “hair loss.” It can vary from genetically related hair loss such as male pattern baldness or female hair thinning, to more severe presentations such as a total loss of all body hair, separate and apart from any type of hair loss induced by medical treatments such as chemotherapy.

Not all medical hair loss can be attributed directly to alopecia, and in fact many individuals find the change in the growth or retention of their tresses to be considered a secondary, indirect, and sometimes unmentioned symptom of their primary disease. Medically related hair loss can present in a number of ways.

Medical conditions like hyperthyroidism and lupus count hair loss among the major signs and symptoms of the diseases. While treatment of the primary condition can return hair growth to normal, it is not always the case, and a hair replacement specialist can best help an individual to understand their specific situation, prognosis, and options as far as their locks are concerned. Acute illnesses including major surgery, high fever, or severe infection can cause hair loss following the illness.

Hair loss is a well known side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, both commonly recommended for patients diagnosed with cancer. While this too is a case when hair is expected to grow back in time, it can be an especially upsetting side effect at a time when the patient is already dealing with a number of other personal struggles.

Medications can also cause hair loss, even when the diseases they are prescribed to treat do not. Examples of these types of drugs include blood thinners, birth control pills, and certain medications that treat arthritis, depression, or heart problems. Not everyone who takes these types of medications will experience hair loss, but for many, it is a very real side effect.

Nutrition plays a large role in hair health. A number of nutrients can improve the health of hair, but deficiencies in protein and iron can cause some of the most noticeable hair loss. Rapid weight loss can also cause hair loss, and in fact, hair loss is common in individuals with eating disorders.

This is only a sampling of the medical causes for hair loss, but even this brief list is illuminating in regards to the role that good overall health plays in hair health as a multi-faceted system of habits with dynamic results.

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