The first step to determining the treatment for hair loss is to identify the cause, of which there are many, including: poor nutrition, genetics, imbalanced hormones, medications such as chemotherapy, radiation treatment, infections, chronic stress, and rapid weight loss, to name a few. Certain illnesses and diseases can also cause hair loss or hair shedding. Examples include anemia (low iron) or hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels). In most of these cases, hair loss is not permanent.
In all cases of hair loss, it's also important to ensure that the following blood tests are completed by your doctor in order to determine a cause:
- TSH, free T3, free T4, and thyroid antibodies to assess thyroid gland function. All should be completed to properly diagnose a thyroid condition that may result in excessive hair loss. (Note: Optimally, your TSH should be less than 2.5).
- Ferritin (This is the storage form of iron. Low iron (<70) is a very common cause of hair loss).
- Vitamin B12 and folic acid (either of these nutrients in low levels may cause hair loss).
- Free and total testosterone (high levels of testosterone in women may accelerate hair loss).
Also ensure that you are eating a balanced diet (crash dieting will cause hair loss), taking high quality vitamins and managing stress through yoga, regular exercise and meditation.
Response by Natasha Turner ND