Could Hair Loss Be a Result of Crohn's Disease?

Could Hair Loss Be a Result of Crohn's Disease?

Hair loss is more prevalent than you may imagine in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A third of the patients in a recently published study indicated a history of some type of hair loss.  Despite its frequency, the reasons for hair loss in IBD patients are complicated, and the amount of hair loss varies from person to person.

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel illness of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that is caused by an autoimmune condition. Hair loss is common in persons with IBD, although it is typically transitory. This might be related to medicine, starvation, stress, or a variety of other circumstances. Crohn's disease causes swelling in the gastrointestinal tract, extending from the oral cavity to the anus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that around 3 million persons in the United States were diagnosed with IBD in 2015. (CDC). This figure includes those suffering from ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The condition affects a large number of persons between the ages of 20 and 30. 

If you are experiencing hair loss, you should consult your doctor because the causes of hair loss can vary greatly, and determining the cause is not always feasible.

 

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn's disease is a chronic, or long-term inflammatory illness of the digestive system. Crohn's disease can be excruciatingly painful, incapacitating, and even fatal. Crohn's disease symptoms might include intestinal ulcers, discomfort, and pain. Crohn's disease can occur at any age; however, it commonly begins in childhood or early adulthood. Crohn's disease is one of the disorders classified as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Another kind of IBD is ulcerative colitis. 

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory disorder caused by an immunological response. This implies that the immune system incorrectly assaults the body's own cells, mistaking them for danger when they are not.

Crohn's disease-related inflammation can affect different parts of the digestive system in different persons, most often the small intestine. This inflammation frequently extends into the bowel's deeper layers.

Crohn's disease may be painful and debilitating, occasionally leading to fatal consequences. There is no curative therapy for Crohn's disease, although medicines can significantly lessen its symptoms and potentially bring about long-term remission and inflammatory healing. Many patients with Crohn's disease can function normally with medication. 

It is up to a medical practitioner to determine whether or not you have Crohn's Disease. If you are concerned about your health, you should look out for signs such as persistent exhaustion, blood in your stool, stomach pains, extreme weight loss, and diarrhea. Today, one in every 650 people in the UK has Crohn's Disease. While the availability and variety of treatments have improved since its discovery, there is still no cure for the condition. Unfortunately, Crohn's Disease can manifest itself with a variety of symptoms that are not specifically linked to digestion.

 

Hair Loss Due to Crohn’s Disease

Generally speaking, many Crohn's disease patients have expressed hair loss as a symptom. According to the 2021 study, hair loss may be more likely in patients with IBD than in the general populace.

In one short research published in 2015, 33% of patients reported hair loss as a symptom of IBD. However, because researchers cannot confirm that all of the cases of hair loss were caused by IBD, the true proportion may be lower than what was reported in the study.

The link between hair loss and Crohn's illness is not entirely understood by experts. Hair loss can be caused by a variety of circumstances, making it difficult to determine whether or not it is caused by Crohn's disease. More study is required to investigate the link further. The following are some of the links involving hair loss and Crohn's disease.

 

Alopecia Areata

The aforementioned 2021 research review, there may be a relationship between alopecia areata and IBDs such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system incorrectly assaults your own body. The immune system assaults hair follicles in alopecia areata. The links between alopecia areata and Crohn's illness are still being investigated.

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Experts Trusted Source have long suspected that Crohn's illness is an autoimmune disorder. Instead of fighting the body's own cells, your immune system targets beneficial microorganisms in your gastrointestinal tract.

People with autoimmune diseases such as alopecia areata are more likely to acquire other autoimmune diseases. According to a 2019 study review, this is especially true for women. It's worth noting that the studies in this review didn't collect or incorporate data on transgender and that further study is needed in these areas.

 

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a kind of alopecia that causes fast and severe hair loss. When you get up in the morning, your hair may come out in fistfuls or cover your pillow.

Telogen effluvium usually happens after a physical trauma, such as giving birth or undergoing surgery. This category may potentially include a flare-up of Chron's disease symptoms.

Significant weight loss, anemia, or dietary deficits are possible. However, as you manage your Crohn's symptoms and your flare decreases, your hair should begin to grow normally again.

While the occurrence of telogen effluvium in Crohn's disease is unknown, researchers have linked this kind of hair loss to the illness, other forms of IBD, and autoimmune disorders in general.

 

How Does Crohn’s Disease Cause Hair Loss?

In the same way that ulcerative colitis can affect different people differently, merely having the illness does not guarantee that you will have hair loss. It is, nonetheless, quite common but not usually severe.

 

Deficiencies in nutrition

Crohn's disease can impair nutrition absorption because it creates inflammation in the digestive system.

Even if you consume a well-balanced diet, you may not digest or absorb the nutrients in your food. Diarrhea, a typical symptom of Crohn's disease, can also prevent the absorption of nutrients. One of the most serious problems with Crohn's disease is the incapacity to absorb certain vitamins and minerals as well as a healthy person. Because several of these elements (such as iron, riboflavin, vitamin C, and vitamin D) are required for hair development within the follicle, a deficiency can quickly result in hair loss. 

Poor nutrient absorption can result in malnutrition and a lack of nutrients your body requires for healthy hair development. Malnutrition caused by Crohn's disease can also result in unintended weight loss, which is another cause of hair loss.

Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are essential for hair follicle formation. According to a 2015 study, the following vitamins are commonly deficient in Crohn's disease:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron

    Stress

    Managing Crohn's illness may be difficult. Stress is a typical side effect of living with and controlling symptoms on a regular basis.

    Stress has been linked to a variety of detrimental health impacts, including hair loss. 

    Chronic stress can raise cortisol levels in the body. Because of its involvement in triggering your body's fight-or-flight reaction, cortisol is commonly referred to as the stress hormone. A 2021 research on mice discovered a link between elevated cortisol levels and hair loss.

    There are various other reasons why Crohn's Disease might cause hair loss:  

    • Because of the nature of Crohn's Disease and the downward spiral of abdominal cramps caused by ingestion, the discomfort can frequently rise to feelings of great stress and worry, both of which have been linked to hair loss in patients. 
    • While there are medications that can help with Crohn's Disease, such as immunosuppressants, the adverse effects of these therapies might cause hair follicles to shut down, resulting in thinning.

    Side Effects of Medication

    Hair loss may be a negative effect of one of the drugs used to treat Crohn's disease in certain cases.

    Based on the Arthritis Foundation, the Crohn's medicine most commonly connected with hair loss is methotrexate, a potent prescription used to treat a range of illnesses. 

    Methotrexate combats inflammation by inhibiting cell proliferation. It can also inhibit hair follicle development, resulting in minor hair loss.

     

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    Types of Crohn’s Disease

    According to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, there are five forms of Crohn's disease.

    They are as follows:

    • Ileocolitis: This involves the end of the small intestine and the large intestine, or colon.
    • Ileitis: It is a condition that solely affects the ileum or small intestine.
    • Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease: Crohn's disease of the stomach and duodenum: This illness impacts the stomach and the opening of the small intestine. 
    • Jejunoileitis: It is an inflammatory condition that causes patches of inflammation in the jejunum, the top section of the small intestine.
    • Crohn's (granulomatous) colitis: This condition only affects the colon.

    Symptoms range from nausea to rectal bleeding and vary according to the kind.

     

    Symptoms

    Crohn's disease symptoms differ based on which section of the intestine is affected. They frequently include: 

    Pain: The intensity of discomfort varies from one individual to another and is determined by the location of the inflammation in the stomach. People commonly complain of pain in the lower right side of their abdomen.

    Gut ulcers: These are open wounds that may bleed. If this occurs, a person's feces may include blood. 

    Mouth ulcers: These are frequent Crohn's disease symptoms.

    Diarrhea: It can range from moderate to severe, with mucus, blood, or pus present. A person may also experience the need to urinate yet discover that nothing comes out.

    Fatigue: People with Crohn's disease are frequently exhausted and may have a fever.

    Changes in appetite: A person's appetite may change from time to time.

    Weight loss:  Can be caused by a loss of appetite.

    Anemia: Often caused by a lack of blood.

    Rectal bleeding and anal cracks: The anus's skin fissures, causing discomfort and bleeding.

     

    When to Contact a Doctor?

    Try not to be alarmed if you notice hair in your comb or shower drain. Hair loss is common and occurs in cycles during your life. However, if you're losing a lot more hair than normal or observe balding areas, consult your doctor.

    Hair loss can be inherited or caused by illnesses other than Crohn's disease. It is essential to get medical assistance to identify the most effective hair loss remedies for you.

    While some types of hair loss are permanent, many are transitory and treatable. Furthermore, therapeutic alternatives can aid in the prevention of hair loss and the strengthening of your hair. In general, the sooner you treat hair loss, the better your chances.

     

    Is Crohn’s Disease Curable?

    While therapy can help with Crohn's disease management, there is no cure. Research is ongoing, and treatment may be available once scientists uncover the reasons. 

    Meanwhile, the following data may one-day aid researchers in developing a cure:

    Mycobacterium avium tuberculosis, or MAP bacteria, appears to be more frequent in Crohn's disease patients. Scientists are seeking to determine the connection. 

    According to one hypothesis, Crohn's disease is caused by alterations in the gut flora. More research into this might lead to methods of rebalancing bacteria in the stomach.

    Crohn's disease is influenced by the immune system. As novel strategies for reducing inflammation become available, more effective approaches to controlling Crohn's disease may develop. 

    Genetic factors may also create a difference in finding a cure. Identifying genes that influence Crohn's disease risk and understanding how to modify them might lead to a cure.

    Future solutions include implantable technologies, regenerative medicine, and stem cell technologies.

    However, further research is required before any of these can result in a cure.