Hair loss can be a result of many factors and causes. However, the most difficult type is the one caused by Autoimmune disorders. It’s when the immune system fails to differentiate between bad cells and normal healthy cells. This can result in many symptoms and sings on the patient. But what are these disorders and what causes them in the first place?
What are autoimmune disorders?
Our bodies have an immune system, which is a complex network of special cells and organs that defend the body from germs and other foreign invaders. At the core of the immune system is the ability to tell the difference between self and nonself. In other word, what’s yours and what’s foreign. However, when something goes wrong with this immune system, it becomes confused. In fact, it starts attacking every cell in the body including healthy ones. This is where autoimmune disorders or the immune system disorders can result. The immune system disorders cause abnormally low activity or over activity of the immune system. In cases of the immune system over activity, the body attacks and damages its own tissues (autoimmune diseases). Immune deficiency diseases decrease the body’s ability to fight invaders, causing vulnerability to infections. The treatment for autoimmune diseases generally focuses on reducing the immune system activity.
How autoimmune disorders affect the immune system
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, more than 50 million Americans have at least one of the autoimmune disorders and the vast majority of them are women of working and childbearing age. Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases are the top 10 leading causes of death in women under the age of 65. They come in many different varieties, including rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, thyroid disease, lupus, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and more. They can cause many different types of symptoms all over the body that range from mild to severe in nature.
A flaw can make the body unable to tell the difference between self and nonself. When this happens, the body makes autoantibodies that attack normal cells by mistake. At the same time special cells called regulatory T cells fail to do their job of keeping the immune system in line. The result is a misguided attack on your own body. This causes the damage we know as autoimmune disorders.
What are these autoimmune diseases?
The immune system attacks and destroys the liver cells. Unfortunately, this can lead to scarring and hardening of the liver, and possibly liver failure. This is a life threatening disease that needs immediate treatment.
This is one of the chronic autoimmune diseases that affect approximately 1.5 million Americans, according to the Lupus Foundation. Although the exact cause of lupus remains a mystery, because lupus tends to occur within families, doctors know that genetics plays a role.Lupus affects many different systems and organs in the body, creating a wide range of symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Painful joints
- Abnormal blood clotting
- Hair loss.
Type 1 diabetes
A disease in which the immune system attacks the cells that make insulin, a hormone needed to control
blood sugar levels. Without insulin, too much sugar stays in your blood. As a result, a person may face many sever diseases such as heart attacks, kidney failure and many other health problems.
Guillain-Barre syndrome. Is when the immune system attacks the nerves controlling muscles in the legs and sometimes the arms and upper body. Weakness results, which can sometimes be severe.
Graves’ disease (over active thyroid)
This is an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). Although a number of disorders may result in hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease is a common cause. Because thyroid hormones affect a number of different body systems, Garves’ disease symptoms can be wide ranging and significantly influence the overall well-being. Although this disease may affect anyone, it’s more common among women and before the age of 40.
This disease causes the thyroid to not make enough thyroid hormone. It occurs when the cells of the immune system attack the thyroid gland that produces hormones that regulate many of the body’s activities. Hashimoto’s disease causes inflammation of the gland, which interferes with its ability to function, resulting in an underactive thyroid. This disease progresses slowly, producing few symptoms until the level of thyroid hormones drops significantly. The common symptoms are:
- Sluggishness hair loss.
- Sensitivity to cold.
- Puffy face.
- Hoarse voice.
- Unexplained weight gain.
- Muscle aches.
The immune system attacks hair follicles (the structures from which hair grows). It usually does not
threaten health, but it can greatly affect the way a person looks. When white blood cells attack hair follicles, they interrupt the hair growth cycle leading to small round patches of hair loss. Alopecia areata affects approximately 2 percent of the United States population, most frequently children and young adults. Luckily, this disease is treatable and so is the hair loss it causes.
Autoimmune disorders that cause hair loss
Hair loss occurs when the cycle of hair growth is disrupted or when the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue. Although not life-threatening, hair loss caused by A.D can be disturbing and
needs treatment before it affects the person’s self confidence. The hair cycle can be disturbed due to many factors including autoimmune disorders that make the immune system attack every cell in the body including hair follicles. As a result, excessive hair shedding can occur along with other symptoms and sings. Here are the common autoimmune disorders that cause hair shedding/loss:
- Alopecia Areata
- Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma)
- Graves’ disease
- Hashimoto’s Disease
The body parts that are affected depend on the type of autoimmune disease. There are more than 80 known types. The first symptoms of an autoimmune disease may be general, such as fatigue, sudden hair shedding, low-grade fever, and difficulty concentrating, making autoimmune diseases difficult to diagnose at first. A person may also feel depressed and emotional.
When a person notices an abnormal hair shedding specially when hair comes out in patches, it is recommended to see a doctor. An early diagnosis can prevent any health condition from developing into a life threatening disease. Therefore, treating hair loss can be easier and more effective.