Diabetes and Hair Loss

Could you have diabetes and hair loss? It could be, but maybe you don't even know it. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2015 about 30.3 of Americans suffered from the disease. Of these, 23.1 million knew it, while 7.2 million did not. In fact, diabetes is one of the causes of hair loss.

When we think about diabetes, we almost always think of sweets. But when one sees that one of the results is hair loss, the least we think is in something sweet.

I personally do not have diabetes, but my dad does. In 1984 he was diagnosed with pancreatitis which, although he was saved from this disease, caused his pancreas not to produce enough insulin to properly absorb his glucose. That caused him to suffer from type 2 diabetes from then on.

But nobody else in my family, neither from my dad's side, nor from my mom's has suffered from this condition. If you want to know how diabetes and hair loss affected my dad, read on.

When does diabetes occur?

Diabetes does occur when you have high blood glucose levels. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and 2. Both could have an effect in your hair loss. But how could it come to this, and in what way can you keep your diabetes on check, even though there is not a known cure?

There are different reasons why diabetes and hair loss are related. As I did mention above, there are two types, 1 and 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease. What does that mean? That means that the one who has it, is likely to develop a condition called alopecia areata.

It should be noted though, that if you have thinning hair, that could mean that you already have insulin resistance, or maybe pre-diabetes. In 2015, about 84 million Americans aged 18 and older had pre-diabetes.

What types of diabetes lead to Hair Loss?

Alopecia areata is a condition in which the white blood cells attack the hair follicles, instead of protecting them, as it is supposed to be. That can form patches of hair loss not only on your scalp, but loss of hair on your entire body.

It is the same situation as when soldiers go to battle. Sometimes, some of them get trapped in what is known as "friendly fire". The soldiers on the same side shoot at those who are in front, without noticing they killing their own companions.

Something like this happens when someone has type 1 diabetes. The white blood cells attack the scalp, thinking they are enemies. That is one of the reasons why diabetes and hair loss are connected.  

However, the most common kind of diabetes is type 2. About 90 percent of those with the condition have type 2 diabetes. In some cases with type 2, the body resists a hormone called insulin. This hormone controls the movement of sugar in cells. In others, the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin.

Either case, sugar accumulates in the body, leading to organ damage, such as the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.

In Type 2, the relation between diabetes and hair loss is attributed to telogen effluvium. This is a body's natural process in which the hair continue to grow for two years, then stops, and in two more months enter the final shedding phase.

But diabetes get in the way of that process, causing to shed more hair than normal. Then when the stage of hair growth comes, it decelerates.

How diabetes and hair loss are linked?

An excess of sugar also affects the blood vessels, preventing them from transporting enough oxygen and nutrients to different tissues of the body.

The diabetic tends to suffer from hair loss and thinning hair, either by the difficulties of blood circulation, or by problems regulating the quantity of glucose in the blood stream.

If you have a chronic disease such as diabetes, that alone can cause stress, and this can cause the hair to fall. Medicines to treat diabetes can have side effects, including hair loss. Diabetes can lead to conditions in the thyroid, and these to lose hair also.

The wounds and bruises of the person with diabetes are more difficult to heal or they do more slowly. Then, since the recovery is slower, hair regrowth will be slower too.

What can you do?

First things first. It is very important that you see your doctor to receive professional help. That way you can be sure of what is the reasons behind your hair loss. Maybe there is another condition besides diabetes that is causing your hair fall too. Like a thyroid problem, for instance.

What else can you do?

            ·    Since we are talking about your doctor, be sure to know if the medication you are taking, does not have any side effects that will contribute to your hair loss. Maybe it's just a matter of adjusting the medication.

            ·    If you have problems with stress, it would be a wise decision to address that problem also, because it will sabotage all your efforts to control your hair loss. If you want more information about stress, and how it is related to hair loss click here.

            ·    Exercise regularly-Again, talk to your doctor first, to avoid exercises that cause too much strain in your body.

            ·    Eat healthy foods, especially the ones that promotes your hair growth.

            ·    Take biotin- Usually those with diabetes have low levels of biotin in their body. You can take biotin as a supplement, or eating some foods like fish, almonds, eggs, beef liver, and so on. The recommended dosage is 80 micrograms per day, but as I said before... ask your doctor first.

Do you remember what I told you about my dad? The pancreas was inflamed, and as a result it stopped producing enough insulin. That made him suffer from type 2 diabetes. However, happily I have to say that at his 80, he still has a full head of hair.

If you approach your diabetes problem properly, even if you have loss of hair, eventually it will return, although more slowly. If you are looking for more information of the causes of hair loss, just make a click here.

One last advice. Breathe deeply, relax and think positively. You will see that the solution to your problem is closer than you imagine.