Excessive hair loss should never be dismissed as a cosmetic problem, as it can be an early warning sign of impending illness. Any change in hair can be the body's way of telling you to pay attention to your health.
The condition of one's hair is an indication of their entire physical and emotional well-being. When a person is physically or emotionally ill their hair may become dull and lifeless, and may begin to fall out. Traditional Chinese medicine and other healing systems view the outward appearance of one's hair as an indication of the internal system.
Hair loss is a symptom of many medical conditions. Taking hair loss seriously in the beginning stages can help prevent a slight imbalance from becoming a more serious medical condition. In many cases hair loss is temporary and can be easily corrected once the cause is identified and addressed.
An example of hair loss as an early symptom of impending illness was documented in the Journal of Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM, December 1989.) A 40 year old female experienced chronic diffuse hair loss with no other symptoms. Six months later she experienced an attack of ulcerative colitis. She was treated and remained well for eighteen months. During this time her hair loss ceased. Her second attack of ulcerative colitis was also preceded by diffuse hair loss before any other symptoms were present. Because of this pattern, another episode of hair loss could be a warning of the possibility of an upcoming ulcerative colitis attack, and preventative measures can be taken.
Other gastrointestinal disorders such as Chron's disease and Celiac disease often include hair loss as a symptom. These types of disorders hinder the body's ability of absorb nutrients. Malnourishment often shows up in the hair before other symptoms are present.
Hair loss is often the first symptom of any type of adrenal gland imbalance. If treated early balance can be re-established. Untreated adrenal gland disturbances can progress to more serious disorders such as Addison's disease or Cushing's syndrome.
The thyroid is commonly involved in hair loss. A healthy thyroid is essential for healthy hair. Even a slight deficiency or excess of thyroid hormones could cause hair loss. The thyroid should always be checked when hair loss occurs.
There are over 80 different autoimmune disorders. Although hair loss is very common with certain autoimmune disorders such as lupus, scleroderma, and Grave's disease, it can be a symptom of almost all autoimmune conditions. Changes in texture, color, dryness etc. commonly occur in autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune conditions cause the immune system to mistakenly view its own cells as foreign invaders. In response the immune system begins to attack its own body, affecting various organs and body systems.
Any liver or kidney deficiency can manifest as hair loss. In Chinese medicine the kidneys are believed to be the primary organ connected to scalp hair. It is thought that beautiful lustrous hair is a sign of healthy kidneys; and that a weakness in the kidneys can cause thinning and prematurely gray hair.
Problems with insulin and blood sugar levels such as in hypoglycemia and diabetes can cause hair loss. Iron deficiency anemia and pernicious anemia are also causes of hair loss.
Any hormonal imbalance can lead to hair loss. A common cause of hair loss in women is polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Candidiasis albicans is a condition of yeast overgrowth which can become very destructive and cause many health problems including hair loss.
These are some of the more common medical conditions in which has loss can be a symptom. Anytime the body is not functioning optimally hair loss may occur. Because hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body (along with bone marrow) it is very sensitive to any disturbances.
It is important to pay attention to any changes in hair and to identify the cause as soon as possible. Correcting the problem early could minimize future health problems.