7 Things Your Hair Reveals About Your Health

Your hair can tell you and your doctor if you are stressed, have a nutritional deficiency, thyroid problem, or other health issues. Here are seven key things to look for in your hair.

You probably think about your hair every day: worrying about a bad day, enjoying a good blow-dry, or wondering if you have to try the new style you noticed in your favorite celebrity. But you may be missing the clues your hair reveals about your health. Research shows that changes in the look, texture, or thickness of your hair can be signs of underlying health issues. Here’s how to tell if your hair changes are due to a health condition, genetics, stress, or a nutritional deficiency.

1 Stress (and genes) can cause you to turn gray

Anyone who has observed the hairstyle changes of a President of the Republic from one campaign to another has noticed that stress seems to cause hair to turn white. A mouse study published in the journal Nature suggests that chronic stress may actually contribute to white hair by causing DNA damage and reducing the number of pigment-producing cells in hair follicles. Stress can also lead to hair loss.

Another type of stress, known as oxidative stress, can also play a role in white hair. Oxidative stress can affect pigment-producing cells. Turning gray is actually a completely natural part of aging because hair follicles produce less color as you age. Your genes also play a role in when your hair turns gray. Ask your parents how old they were when they first saw the signs of silvering, and you might do the same. In fact, a study published in March 2016 in the journal Nature Communications was the first to identify the gene responsible for white hair.

2 brittle hair could be a sign of Cushing’s syndrome

Brittle hair is one of the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, which is a rare condition caused by excess cortisol, the main hormone body stress. But, there are many other, more obvious symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, including high blood pressure, fatigue, and back pain. Treatment for Cushing’s syndrome may involve changing the dose of medication that may be causing the condition, such as glucocorticoids, which are steroids used to treat inflammation caused by various diseases.

3 Thinning hair may be a sign of thyroid disease

People with hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones, may notice increased hair loss and change in hair appearance. About 4.6% of the population aged 12 years and older have hypothyroidism, although most cases are mild. Hypothyroidism can lead to thinning hair and other symptoms, such as fatigue, intolerance to cold, joint pain, muscle aches, puffy face and weight gain. A thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test can diagnose the condition, and treatment involves taking thyroid medication.

In addition to thinning hair, some thyroid disorders put you at risk for risk of autoimmune hair loss called alopecia areata. This type of hair loss causes round patches of sudden hair loss and is caused by the immune system attacking the hair follicles.

4 Hair loss can be a sign of anemia

If you suddenly notice a lot more hair in your hairbrush or on the floor of your shower, it may be a sign that your body has low iron stores, or anemia , and may warrant testing. This is another blood test we do when you complain of hair changes. Vegetarians or women with heavy periods increase their risk that hair changes are due to iron deficiency.

It is unclear why iron deficiency can lead to hair loss. hair, but iron is essential for many biological and chemical reactions, perhaps including hair growth. Hair loss can also occur (temporarily) with sudden changes in estrogen levels and is often noticed after pregnancy or stopping birth control pills.

5 The loss of hair could indicate protein deficiency

Protein is essential for hair health and growth (a lack of protein has been linked to hair thinning and hair loss ). Protein deficiency is not a problem for most people. Most adults need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Good sources of protein include low-fat Greek yogurt, chickpeas, and chicken breast. People who have gastrointestinal difficulties or who have just had gastric bypass surgery may have problems digesting protein. These special situations will need to be managed with the help of your doctor. But most cases of thinning hair, even in women, are probably due to genetics.

6 White or yellow flakes can mean you have dandruff

Yellow or white flakes in your hair, on your shoulders and even in your eyebrows are a sign of dandruff, a chronic scalp condition. Dandruff is usually not a sign of a health problem and can be treated with specialized over-the-counter or prescription shampoos.

One of the most common causes of dandruff is a medical condition called seborrheic dermatitis. People with seborrheic dermatitis have red, oily skin covered in white or yellow scales. A yeast-like fungus called malassezia can also irritate the scalp. Insufficient shampoo, sensitivity to hair care products, and dry skin can also cause dandruff. (Dandruff is usually more severe in the winter, when indoor heating can make skin drier).

7 Damaged hair can mask other health issues

Although hair can reveal your condition, women more often complain about the damage caused by hair coloring and heat treatment. Excessive heat, from daily use of a flat iron or blow-drying, can certainly damage your hair, making it dry, brittle and difficult to maintain. Best not to use more than one hot tool per day (occasional double heat treatment is okay, but not daily). When applying heat to your hair, always use products with protective ingredients. Serums and shine drops tend to have hair-preserving qualities when using direct and indirect heat.

From https://www.mvdemocrat.com/appearance-texture-thickness-7-things-your-hair-reveals-about-your-health/

Adrenal Fatigue: Faux Diagnosis?

This article is based on reporting that features expert sources.

U.S. News & World Report

Adrenal Fatigue: Is It Real?

You may have heard of so-called ‘adrenal fatigue,’ supposedly caused by ongoing emotional stress. Or you might have come across adrenal support supplements sold online to treat it. But if someone suggests you have the controversial, unproven condition, seek a second opinion, experts say. And if someone tries to sell you dietary supplements or other treatments for adrenal fatigue, be safe and save your money.

Tired man sitting at desk in modern office

(GETTY IMAGES)

Physicians tend to talk about ‘reaching’ or ‘making’ a medical diagnosis. However, when it comes to adrenal fatigue, endocrinologists – doctors who specialize in diseases involving hormone-secreting glands like the adrenals – sometimes use language such as ‘perpetrating a diagnosis,’ ‘misdiagnosis,’ ‘made-up diagnosis,’ ‘a fallacy’ and ‘nonsense.’

About 20 years ago, the term “adrenal fatigue” was coined by Dr. James Wilson, a chiropractor. Since then, certain practitioners and marketers have promoted the notion that chronic stress somehow slows or shuts down the adrenal glands, causing excessive fatigue.

“The phenomenon emerged from the world of integrative medicine and naturopathic medicine,” says Dr. James Findling, a professor of medicine and director of the Community Endocrinology Center and Clinics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “It has no scientific basis, and there’s no merit to it as a clinical diagnosis.”

An online search of medical billing code sets in the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases, or the ICD-10, does not yield a diagnostic code for ‘adrenal fatigue’ among the 331 diagnoses related either to fatigue or adrenal conditions or procedures.

In a March 2020 position statement, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology addressed the use of adrenal supplements “to treat common nonspecific symptoms due to ‘adrenal fatigue,’ an entity that has not been recognized as a legitimate diagnosis.”

The position statement warned of known and unknown health risks of off-label use and misuse of hormones and supplements in patients without an established endocrine diagnosis, as well as unnecessary costs to patients and the overall health care system.

Study after study has refuted the legitimacy of adrenal fatigue as a medical diagnosis. An August 2016 systematic review combined and analyzed data from 58 studies on adrenal fatigue including more than 10,000 participants. The conclusion in a nutshell: “Adrenal fatigue does not exist,” according to review authors in the journal BMC Endocrine Disorders.

Adrenal Action

You have two adrenal glands in your body. These small triangular glands, one on top of each kidney, produce essential hormones such as aldosterone, cortisol and male sex hormones such as DHEA and testosterone.

Cortisol helps regulate metabolism: How your body uses fat, protein and carbohydrates from food, and cortisol increases blood sugar as needed. It also plays a role in controlling blood pressure, preventing inflammation and regulating your sleep/wake cycle.

As your body responds to stress, cortisol increases. This response starts with signals between two sections in the brain: The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which act together to release a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands to make cortisol. This interactive unit is called the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis.

While some health conditions really do affect the body’s cortisol-making ability, adrenal fatigue isn’t among them.

“There’s no evidence to support that adrenal fatigue is an actual medical condition,” says Dr. Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, a staff endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. “There’s no stress connection in the sense that someone’s adrenal glands will all of a sudden just stop producing cortisol because they’re so inundated with emotional stress.”

If anything, adrenal glands are workhorses that rise to the occasion when chronic stress occurs. “The last thing in the body that’s going to fatigue are your adrenal glands,” says Dr. William F. Young Jr., an endocrinology clinical professor and professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Adrenal glands are built for stress – that’s what they do. Adrenal glands don’t fatigue. This is made up – it’s a fallacy.”

The idea of adrenal glands crumbling under stress is “ridiculous,” Findling agrees. “In reality, if you take a person and subject them to chronic stress, the adrenal glands don’t shut down at all,” Findling says. “They keep making cortisol – it’s a stress hormone. In fact, the adrenal glands are just like the Energizer Bunny – they just keep going. They don’t stop.”

Home cortisol tests that allow consumers to check their own levels can be misleading, Findling says. “Some providers who make this (adrenal fatigue) diagnosis, provide patients with testing equipment for doing saliva cortisol levels throughout the day,” he says. “And then, regardless of what the results are, they perpetrate this diagnosis of adrenal fatigue.”

Saliva cortisol is a legitimate test that’s frequently used in diagnosing Cushing’s syndrome, or overactive adrenal glands, Findling notes. However, he says, a practitioner pursuing an adrenal fatigue diagnosis could game the system. “What they do is: They shape a very narrow normal range, so narrow, in fact, that no normal human subject could have all their saliva cortisol (levels) within that range throughout the course of the day,” he says. “Then they convince the poor patients that they have adrenal fatigue phenomena and put them on some kind of adrenal support.”

Loaded Supplements

How do you know what you’re actually getting if you buy a dietary supplement marketed for adrenal fatigue or ‘adrenal support’ use? To find out, researchers purchased 12 such supplements over the counter in the U.S.

Laboratory tests revealed that all supplements contained a small amount of thyroid hormone and most contained at least one steroid hormone, according to the study published in the March 2018 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. “These results may highlight potential risks for hidden ingredients in unregulated supplements,” the authors concluded.

Supplements containing thyroid hormones or steroids can interact with a patient’s prescribed medications or have other side effects.

“Some people just assume they have adrenal fatigue because they looked it up online when they felt tired and they ultimately buy these over-the-counter supplements that can be very dangerous at times,” Vouyiouklis Kellis says. “Some of them contain animal (ingredients), like bovine adrenal extract. That can suppress the pituitary axis. So, as a result, your body stops making its own cortisol or starts making less of it, and as a result, you can actually worsen the condition rather than make it better.”

Any form of steroid from outside the body, whether a prescription drug like prednisone or extract from cows’ adrenal glands, “can shut off the pituitary,” Vouyiouklis Kellis explains. “Because it’s signaling to the pituitary like: Hey, you don’t need to stimulate the adrenals to make cortisol, because this patient is taking it already. So, as a result, the body ultimately doesn’t produce as much. And, so, if you rapidly withdraw that steroid or just all of a sudden decide not to take it anymore, then you can have this acute response of low cortisol.”

Some adrenal support products, such as herbal-only supplements, may be harmless. However, they’re unlikely to relieve chronic fatigue.

Fatigue: No Easy Answers

If you’re suffering from ongoing fatigue, it’s frustrating. And you’re not alone. “I have fatigue,” Young Jr. says. “Go to the lobby any given day and say, ‘Raise your hand if you have fatigue.’ Most of the people are going to raise their hands. It’s a common human symptom and people would like an easy answer for it. Usually there’s not an easy answer. I think ‘adrenal fatigue’ is attractive because it’s like: Aha, here’s the answer.”

There aren’t that many causes of endocrine-related fatigue, Young Jr. notes. “Hypothyroidism – when the thyroid gland is not working – is one.” Addison’s disease, or adrenal insufficiency, can also lead to fatigue among a variety of other symptoms. Established adrenal conditions – like adrenal insufficiency – need to be treated.

“In adrenal insufficiency, there is an intrinsic problem in the adrenal gland’s inability to produce cortisol,” Vouyiouklis Kellis explains. “That can either be a primary problem in the adrenal gland or an issue with the pituitary gland not being able to stimulate the adrenal to make cortisol.”

Issues can arise even with necessary medications. “For example, very commonly, people are put on steroids for various reasons: allergies, ear, nose and throat problems,” Vouyiouklis Kellis says. “And with the withdrawal of the steroids, they can ultimately have adrenal insufficiency, or decrease in cortisol.”

Opioid medications for pain also result in adrenal sufficiency, Vouyiouklis Kellis says, adding that this particular side effect is rarely discussed. People with a history of autoimmune disease can also be at higher risk for adrenal insufficiency.

Common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Weight loss.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Salt cravings.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin).
  • Irritability.

Medical tests for adrenal insufficiency start with blood cortisol levels, and tests for the ACTH hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland.

“If the person does not have adrenal insufficiency and they’re still fatigued, it’s important to get to the bottom of it,” Vouyiouklis Kellis says. Untreated sleep apnea often turns out to be the actual cause, she notes.

“It’s very important to tease out what’s going on,” Vouyiouklis Kellis emphasizes. “It can be multifactorial – multiple things contributing to the patient’s feeling of fatigue.” The blood condition anemia – a lack of healthy red blood cells – is another potential cause.

“If you are fatigued, do not treat yourself,” Vouyiouklis Kellis says. “Please seek a physician or a primary care provider for evaluation, because you don’t want to go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. It’s very important to rule out actual causes that would be contributing to symptoms rather than ordering supplements online or seeking an alternative route like self-treating rather than being evaluated first.”

SOURCES

The U.S. News Health team delivers accurate information about health, nutrition and fitness, as well as in-depth medical condition guides. All of our stories rely on multiple, independent sources and experts in the field, such as medical doctors and licensed nutritionists. To learn more about how we keep our content accurate and trustworthy, read our editorial guidelines.

James Findling, MDFindling is a professor of medicine and director of the Community Endocrinology Center and Clinics at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, MDVouyiouklis Kellis is a staff endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic.

William F. Young Jr., MDYoung Jr. is an endocrinology clinical professor and professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

From https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/adrenal-fatigue-is-it-real?

Acute severe Cushing’s disease presenting as a hypercoagulable state

This article was originally published here

Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2021 Jul 29;34(6):715-717. doi: 10.1080/08998280.2021.1953950. eCollection 2021.

ABSTRACT

Cushing’s disease (CD) is the most common cause of endogenous cortisol excess. We discuss the case of a 60-year-old woman with recurrent venous thromboembolism, refractory hypokalemia, and lumbar vertebrae compression fractures with a rapidly progressive disease course.

Ectopic hypercortisolism was suspected given the patient’s age and rapid onset of disease. Investigations revealed cortisol excess from a pituitary microadenoma.

This case demonstrates that CD can present with severe findings and highlights the increased risk of venous thromboembolism in hypercortisolism, especially in CD.

PMID:34732999 | PMC:PMC8545141 | DOI:10.1080/08998280.2021.1953950

Metabolic profile differences in ACTH-dependent and ACTH-independent Cushing syndrome

Abstract

Background

The most common etiologies of Cushing’s syndrome (CS) are adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing pituitary adenoma (pitCS) and primary adrenal gland disease (adrCS), both of which burden patients with metabolic disturbance. The aim of this study was to compare the metabolic features of pitCS and adrCS patients.

Methods

A retrospective review including 114 patients (64 adrCS and 50 pitCS) diagnosed with CS in 2009–2019 was performed. Metabolic factors were then compared between pitCS and adrCS groups.

Results

Regarding sex, females suffered both adrCs (92.2%) and pitCS (88.0%) more frequently than males. Regarding age, patients with pitCS were diagnosed at a younger age (35.40 ± 11.94 vs. 39.65 ± 11.37 years, P = 0.056) than those with adrCS, although the difference was not statistically significant. Moreover, pitCS patients had much higher ACTH levels and more serious occurrences of hypercortisolemia at all time points (8 AM, 4 PM, 12 AM) than that in adrCS patients. Conversely, indexes, including body weight, BMI, blood pressure, serum total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C, triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, and uric acid, showed no differences between adrCS and pitCS patients. Furthermore, diabetes prevalence was higher in pitCS patients than in adrCS patients; however, there were no significant differences in hypertension or dyslipidemia prevalence between the two.

Conclusions

Although adrCS and pitCS had different pathogenetic mechanisms, different severities of hypercortisolemia, and different diabetes prevalences, both etiologies had similar metabolic characteristics.

Keywords

Cushing’s syndrome
Pituitary Cushing’s
Adrenal Cushing’s
Metabolic disturbance

ACTH-independent Cushing’s syndrome due to bilateral adrenocortical adenoma

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.radcr.2021.07.093

 

Abstract

The chronic excess of glucocorticoids results in Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing’s syndrome presents with a variety of signs and symptoms including: central obesity, proximal muscle weakness, fatigue striae, poor wound healing, amenorrhea, and others.

ACTH independent Cushing’s syndrome is usually due to unilateral adenoma. A rare cause of it is bilateral adrenal adenomas.

In this paper we report a case of a 43-year-old woman with Cushing’s syndrome due to bilateral adrenal adenoma.

Read the case report at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1930043321005690

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