Let's start off by saying that losing hair on a daily basis is completely
normal. In fact, the average adult woman is losing somewhere around 100
each day which, when you consider that adults start off with roughly 150,000
strands, is just a drop in the bucket. But if you've noticed that
your hair seems to be falling out at a much quicker pace than normal,
or is thinning overall, it may be time to see your doctor.
"Typically when a strand of hair falls out, a new strand of equal
width grows in its place," explains
James DeCock, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at
Mission Heritage Medical Group in Foothill Ranch. "Overall thinning of hair means that the new hairs
you're growing to replace the old ones are either significantly thinner,
or not growing back at all. This can, of course, be genetic, which is
why your doctor will first want to know if older generations in your family
have had a similar experience, but it could also be a sign of a bigger
Another possible cause for hair loss, according to Dr. DeCock, is stress.
"We're not talking about every day stressors here, like running
late for work or having your laundry pile up," he explains. "It's
the type of stress that affects your sleeping schedule, your appetite,
and other factors that could physically manifest as hair loss."
Changes in your hair's overall look or texture can also be an indicator
of a thyroid condition, according to recent research. Patients with hypothyroidism,
a condition in which your thyroid gland isn't producing enough of
the thyroid hormone, often experience thinning or dryer hair, in addition
to a myriad of other symptoms. Since the thyroid produces hormones that
help regulate everything from body temperature to energy levels to bone
health and heart health, it's no surprise that having an underactive
thyroid gland would lead to symptoms like thinning hair.
One other potential cause for hair thinning that's worth noting is
your prescription medication. Hair loss or hair thinning is often a side
effect of prescription medications, so if you take them regularly, it
could be worth looking into whether this is a common side effect. Depending
on the severity, you may be able to discuss alternative treatment options
with your physician.
"Remember that hair loss isn't necessarily permanent, depending
on the underlying causes," says Dr. DeCock, "so if it seems
out of the ordinary, don't be afraid to get in touch with your physician
to look into it further. It's important to take notice of significant
changes in your body’s appearance so that we can make informed diagnoses
and treatment decisions, if necessary."
Do you have questions about what your thinning hair might indicate? Leave
your questions and experiences in the comments below.
Dr. DeCock. Learn more about
Mission Heritage Medical Group.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.