An Overview Of Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease wherein the body does not produce or does not properly utilize insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for moving blood glucose from the food one eats into the cells to store or use as energy.
The lack of or inefficient use of insulin causes ones blood glucose levels to go way above normal. This excess sugar can wreak havoc on all the organs, even ones eyes, nerves, and kidneys. It can even lead to heart disease, stroke, or in severe cases, amputation.
The link between diabetes and hair loss lies in ones blood vessels. Blood vessels function to carry oxygen around the body to nourish organs and tissues. When diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels, there would not be enough oxygen to support the hair follicles. This can then result in hair loss.
Monitor Blood Sugar Levels
If you have diabetes or prediabetes, blood glucose control is the primary goal. The target range for your blood sugar will vary depending on a variety of personal factors, but your doctor can help you sort it all out.
As discussed, elevated blood sugar can cause vascular disruption or damage, poor circulation and hormonal imbalancesall of which can lead to hair shedding and loss. Maintaining your blood sugars within your normal range can help keep your hair growth cycles humming along.
Diabetes And Hair Loss: Are The Two Connected
There is a definite connection between diabetes and hair loss. Some women are not even aware that they have the condition and a loss of hair can be one of the first signs.
On this page Ill take a look at the symptoms of diabetes, why it causes hair loss, and what to do if its affecting you.
NOTE: This information is provided for guidance purposes only and should not be seen as medical advice. You should always discuss ANY concerns about your health with a qualified medical professional.
Also, make sure you take the free hair quiz further down in this article.
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High Blood Glucose Levels
Just like the rest of our body, high blood sugar levels can impact the health of your hair follicles, too. High blood sugar levels damage small blood vessels, explained Dr. Raman K. Madan, dermatologist at Northwell Healths Hunting Hospital in New York.
This damage to the blood vessels leads to less oxygen and fewer nutrients reaching the hair follicles which can cause hair to become thinner, Dr. Madan told DiabetesStrong.
Those damaged blood vessels can also cause your hair to lose its luster, appearing more brittle and dried out because it isnt getting the nutrients from your bloodstream that it needs.
Diabetes Hair Loss Prevention: What You Can Do
First and foremost, make sure youre consistently monitoring your glucose levels and practicing a healthy lifestyle. By integrating exercise, healthy eating and meditative practices into your life, you can naturally decrease your glucose and stress levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association, an A1C level below 7% will improve your overall health and prevent additional diabetes complications, including hair loss.A1C tests are reported as a percentage of your average blood sugar levels over the past three months, with a normal level measuring below 5.7%.
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Diabetes And Hair Loss: What’s The Link
High blood sugar levels and complications associated with diabetes can have an indirect yet adverse impact on the hair follicles on your head, causing hair thinning. Hair loss can occur for a number of reasons – from iron deficiency and the stress of living with a chronic illness to even certain medication.
Insulin resistance, a symptom associated with diabetes, is known to cause hair loss. In addition to losing more hair than usual, diabetes can also slow down hair growth. Hair grows at a slower than usual rate among those suffering from the condition.
Diabetes can create a hostile environment for the hair follicles on your scalp, eyelashes and eyebrows, due to poor blood flow. In some cases, it can also trigger Telogen Effluvium, a disease where sudden and unexplained hair loss or thinning occurs as a reaction to the bodys inability to produce insulin.
There are also cases where people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes have reported diabetes-related Alopecia Areata, a condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles on your head or in other parts of your body, causing hair loss. Some people with diabetes also get diagnosed with thyroid, which causes hair loss.
But fret not, as doctors say that the hair loss associated with Diabetes is only limited and can be treated.
How Is Diabetes Related To Hair Loss
As mentioned, when there is a build-up of too much sugar in the bloodstream, inhibiting oxygen from supporting hair follicles and skin tissues, the process of hair growth becomes affected. This reasons out why diabetes is somehow linked with hair loss as the condition do not only impair the production of hair but also stops new hair from growing or forming. It basically impacts how the hair form from under the skin, causing it to halt its emergence on the skin surface, especially on the heads scalp.
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What Can You Do If You Are Suffering From Diabetes
If diabetes is the ONLY cause of your thinning hair, then the good news is that its probably a temporary problem.
Once you start receiving treatment, and your hormones start working properly again, your hair growth cycle should begin to settle down and return to normal, although the rate of growth may be a little slower than before.
Nevertheless, here are some positive steps you can take to address the issue.
Do you have experience with diabetes-related hair loss? Share below.
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Reversing Diabetic Hair Loss With Lifestyle
Regular physical activity, stress management, and medication management are key focus points when it comes to diabetic hair loss.
Physical activity promotes blood circulation. Proper circulation increases blood flow to all areas of the body, including hair follicles.
In most cases, regular physical activity is recommended for people with diabetes. Before you hit the gym or step into the street for a jog, I recommend a consultation with your medical provider and your diabetes care and education specialist.
Your doctor may want to evaluate your heart rate or respirations to make sure it is safe to exercise. You may or may not have limitations or restrictions.
Your diabetes care and education specialist will help you adjust your insulin, injectables, or oral diabetes medications that will cause a drop in your blood sugars, such as sulfonylureas including Amaryl, Glucotrol, Micronase, Glynase, and Diabeta.
When we do physical activity, the bodys muscles need fuel. That fuel comes in the form of glucose, which is released from the liver, and is served up via the blood. The problem with diabetes is the inability to deal with that blood sugar properly.
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Other Effects Of Diabetes On The Body
Diabetes affects the body in countless ways and can lead to devastating complications if left untreated. Some of the common effects of diabetes include:
- Risk of heart disease
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Heavy thirst
- More likely to develop periodontal disease
Does diabetes cause hair loss? The answer is yes. The normal hair growth cycle can be affected by the combination of high blood glucose levels, stress and hormonal imbalance, and certain diabetes medication. Early diagnosis and treatment are necessary to keep the blood sugar levels under control and combat hair loss problems due to diabetes.
Your A1c And Blood Sugar Management
First and foremost, improving your blood sugar levels is critical. Following the American Diabetes Associations recommendations of an HbA1c at or below 7 percent will improve the health of your entire body and prevent further development of any diabetes complications, including hair loss.
For patients able to be more aggressive about blood sugar management, an A1c under 6.5 percent is going to have an even greater impact on preventing damage to small and large blood vessels.
An A1c of 7 percent is an average blood sugar level of 154 mg/dL.
Each patient should consider with their healthcare team what is a realistically appropriate goal for them. Patients with hypoglycemia unawareness, for example, may find that aiming for an A1c under 6.5 percent increases their risk of low blood sugars too much, and isnt sustainable or safe.
Patients who struggle to stay in their goal blood sugar range without frequent low blood sugars would have a good reason to keep their A1c closer to 7 percent rather than 6.5 for the sake of safety.
Remember, improving your blood sugar levels and A1c isnt just about correcting high blood sugars more often, but on preventing them first through a combination of increasing medication doses, reducing the processed food in your diet, getting more exercise, and increasing the amount of whole, real food in your diet.
- For tips on improving your nutrition, read DiabetesStrongs No-Carb, Low-Carb, or Moderate Carb: Which is Best for Diabetes?
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Diabetes And Alopecia Areata
Because type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, people with this condition are also predisposed to having other autoimmune diseases. Known as polyautoimmunity, multiple autoimmune disorders often occur in a single person. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks your hair follicles. As a result, people with this condition have bald patches that appear all over their bodies, including their heads.
Alopecia areata is extremely difficult to treat and can be even more complicated in the presence of diabetes. Additionally, most autoimmune conditions have hair loss as a symptom, meaning that people with type 1 diabetes who have alopecia areata may also have another autoimmune disorder like Hashimotos thyroiditis, which further worsens hair loss.
Could Your Hair Loss Be A Sign Of Diabetes
According to recent statistics, 24% of diabetes cases go undiagnosed. Data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2014 shows that there are 29.1 million Americans with diabetes but only 21 million people are aware of it.
There are lots of different reasons that diabetes causes hair loss, which I will cover later in this article. But its also worth knowing that thinning hair can also indicate two other related conditions
- insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is a precursor to pre-diabetes and BOTH conditions are precursors to type 2 diabetes.
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Type 2 diabetes affects the insulin in a persons body – a hormone that regulates how the body uses and stores glucose and fat. When a person has type 2 diabetes, the body still breaks down carbohydrate from the food and drink and turns it into glucose. The pancreas responds to this by releasing insulin, however, this insulin does not work properly and blood sugar levels rise with more insulin being released. This occurrence brings worrying symptoms, signalling high blood sugar levels, and can sometimes result in hair loss.
Why Does Diabetes Cause Hair Loss
Diabetes hair loss is very complex and reasons for it are diverse. This makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what might be causing your hair loss. Lets discuss some of the potential culprits.
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause a disruption of your bodys hormones. Hormones are very complex substances that work intricately together to control many bodily actions, including hair health and hair growth. Fluctuating hormone levels due to diabetes can negatively affect the regeneration process of hair follicles and lead to hair loss.
As weve already mentioned, diabetes can damage blood vessels. Just like other organs and tissues, hair follicles rely on good blood circulation to deliver enough nutrients to nourish them and promote healthy hair growth. When they dont get the nutrients needed, hair growth can be affected. This can cause a loss of body hair as well.
Immune System Deficiency
Autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes, occur when the immune system accidentally attacks healthy tissues, thinking they are foreign invaders. This leaves them more prone to infection and with a reduced ability to fight infection. Infections can result in a disrupted hair growth cycle.
Diabetes is an ongoing condition that can be difficult to cope with, leading to chronic emotional stress. Several studies have linked severe psycho-emotional stress to the onset of alopecia areata, or hair loss that generally occurs in patches.
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The Link Between Diabetes And Hair Loss
According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 30 million people in the United States are diabetic.
There are two types of diabetes and the second one is much more prevalent than the first. Type 1 diabetes occurs when a persons immune system destroys the cells in their pancreas that make insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when a person has insulin resistance, meaning their bodies make insulin, but their cells cant use it as well as they should. Insulin is a hormone that helps balance your blood glucose levels and it enables your body to absorb glucose and use it for energy. When your body doesnt use insulin optimally, or when your body doesnt make enough insulin, diabetes occurs.
HOW DOES DIABETES AFFECT MY HAIR GROWTH?
High levels of blood sugar can damage organs all over your body, including your kidneys, eyes, nerves, and even your blood vessels. These vessels carry oxygen-rich blood throughout your body to feed your tissues and organs. Damaged blood vessels may not be able to deliver enough oxygen to nourish your hair follicles, interrupting your hairs growth cycle and slowing it down.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT MY HAIR LOSS?
Managing diabetes is stressful enough without having to deal with hair loss on top of it. The good news is you dont have to live with hair loss. Talk to your doctor about any diabetes questions you have and make an appointment with one of our hair loss experts to find out how we can help you get your hair back.
Can Diabetes Cause Hair Loss: Potential Reasons Treatment And Prevention
In this article we will cover the connection between diabetes and hair loss, including things that you can do as a diabetic to help protect your hair.
Diabetes is a complicated disease that can have widespread consequences on your health.
Most diabetics are aware of the potential negative effects diabetes can have on your kidneys, heart, feet, eyes, nerves, and vessels. But, most may not be aware that diabetes may also negatively affect your hair.
Below, we will cover the connection between diabetes and hair loss, including things that you can do as a diabetic to help protect your hair, and potential treatment options for those who have already experienced hair loss from diabetes.
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