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You definitely give some thought to your hair on a daily basis, whether you’re having a terrible hair day, enjoying a fresh blowout, or debating whether to copy a celebrity’s new hairstyle. But your hair may be hiding important information about your health, and you may be missing it. Alterations to the hair’s appearance, texture, or thickness may be indicative of systemic diseases, according to studies. Here’s how to figure out if the alterations to your mane are the result of illness, heredity, stress, or malnutrition. 

The Aging Process is Linked to Stress and Heredity

It has been hypothesized that persistent stress has a role in the aging of hair by damaging DNA and decreasing the number of pigment-producing cells in hair follicles, according to a mouse research published in Nature. Hair loss is another potential effect of stress.

It has been hypothesized that oxidative stress, which occurs when cell-damaging free radicals hinder the body’s healing mechanisms, contributes to the development of gray hair.

Gray hair is an inevitable consequence of aging due to a decline in melanin production by the hair follicles. The rate at which your hair begins to gray is also affected by your genes. Gray hair may be traced back to a single gene, which was discovered in a study published in March 2016 in Nature Communications.

Cushing’s Syndrome May Be Manifested by Dry, Brittle Hair

Overproduction of cortisol, the body’s principal stress hormone, is the underlying cause of Cushing’s syndrome, an uncommon illness characterized by brittle hair. High blood pressure, weariness, and back discomfort are other common symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, as pointed out by Mirmirani.

Modifying the dosage of glucocorticoids, hormones used to treat inflammation produced by a wide range of disorders, may be an effective treatment for Cushing’s syndrome. However, in certain cases, treatment with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation is required to stop the adrenal gland from producing too much cortisol.

Thinning hair may be an indication of thyroid disease

Hypothyroidism, when the thyroid gland fails to generate adequate thyroid hormones, is associated with increased hair loss and a potential alteration in the look of hair.

Mild hypothyroidism affects around 4.6% of the U.S. population ages 12 and above. Symptoms include hair thinning and a host of others including fatigue, sensitivity to cold, joint discomfort, muscular ache, swollen face, and increased weight. Thyroid medicine is used for both diagnosis (through a test for thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH) and therapy. 

Certain thyroid abnormalities increase your risk for alopecia areata, an autoimmune illness that causes complete hair loss. The immune system’s attack on the hair follicles is the root cause of this form of hair loss, which manifests as abrupt, circular areas of baldness.