There can be more to hair loss than simply having it fall out. Autoimmune endocrine conditions that involve hair loss are called polyglandular autoimmune disease, or polyglandular failure syndrome. Hair loss that results from these conditions is called alopecia.
Dr. Theodore Friedman works in his practice with hormone imbalances. He is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary disorders and is involved in ongoing research concerning endocrine problems, hormone regulation and pancreatic functions.
(Transcribed from video interview)
So there are two endocrine conditions that are called polyglandular autoimmune disease or polyglandular failure syndromes. They are relatively rare and both are associated with hair loss.
The endocrine autoimmune type of hair loss is called alopecia. You can have alopecia totalis, where you have all your hair lost; alopecia areata where you have sort of partial hair loss or patches of hair loss.
In this case the hair comes out at a much higher rate than your regular type of hair loss, and it can come out in clumps and the patient can instantly, you know rather in a short period of time even go bald which is very disabling.
The two types of autoimmune endocrine conditions are called type 1 and type 2. Type 2 is more common in adults and is an autoimmune thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, or even Graves disease which is hyperthyroidism, that’s one of the conditions.
Also part of the condition of this type 2 autoimmune disease is adrenal insufficiency also called Addison’s disease. Women can have in part of this type 2 condition have diabetes as a sort of a type 1 diabetes where they are not making insulin but it happens at a later age.
They can have ovarian problems and with these other autoimmune endocrine problems they can often get this hair loss which is on autoimmune basis.
So if you have these autoimmune diseases you might be a setup for getting this hair loss, and similarly if you have this hair loss completely coming out very rapidly and you have like a family history of autoimmune disease, this disease run in families, you might want to get your adrenals checked with some blood test of a cortisol level, maybe on aldosterone level, you can get your thyroid check with thyroid function test, etc.
The type 1 polyglandular failure syndrome is rare and usually starts in children, and this is manifested by three things – one is they have fungal infections of both their mouth and their fingers.
Second of all they have Addison’s disease, adrenal insufficiency. And third is they have low parathyroid hormone which gives them low calcium. Again this is also associated with this autoimmune alopecia.
So again if you have a child that has and again it’s probably little more common in women, that has a hair loss and is not growing well, has these infections in the fingers and their mouth for example, then they have to put it all together and suspect an endocrine problem.
Again, these conditions are relatively rare but should be thought about for our audience.
About Dr. Theodore Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., M.Phil.:
Dr. Theodore Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., M.Phil., specializes in hard-to-diagnose-and- treat cases of adrenal, pituitary, thyroid, and fatigue disorders. He's been with the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine since 2005 and serves as Chief of the Endocrinology, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine Division at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. He also served as Director of the Multi-Disciplinary Chronic Fatigue Clinic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from 1998-2000.
Dr. Friedman has a private practice near Beverly Hills, California as well as privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Martin Luther King Medical Center.