Health-care pros tell us their patients' most-asked questions. Here's what they have to say about hair shedding and bowel movements.
Q: Lately, I've been noticing more of my hair falling out than usual. What could be causing it?
Dr. Renée A. Beach, dermatologist at the Women's College Hospital in Toronto says:
"It's normal to shed hair daily, such as 50 to 100 strands when grooming it. However, amounts that consistently exceed that level may be a symptom of an underlying problem known as telogen effluvium. Most commonly, large amounts of hair shedding in women can be attributed to iron deficiency acquired from menstrual blood loss or a relative insufficiency in the protein ferritin, which is involved in iron stores; when present, this can be improved with daily iron supplementation. Other culprits can include thyroid imbalance or a deficiency of vitamin B12. Several social factors can contribute to hair shedding, too, including significant stressors like bankruptcy, bereavement or a relationship breakup. There are also medications that can contribute to hair shedding, so one's medications should be reviewed for this uncommon side-effect. A physical trauma or illness can also induce hair loss, which is typically delayed by about three months after the particular event. When the trigger is identified, correction of it can help hair shedding lessen or stabilize after three to six months."
Q: I have a bowel movement every other day. Does that mean I'm constipated?
Dr. Talia Zenlea, gastroenterologist at the Women's College Hospital in Toronto says:
"You're not constipated if this represents your regular schedule. When it comes to bowel movements, each person is unique, and what's normal for one person may not be normal for another. You should be concerned when there's a sustained change to your normal routine or when there are associated symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, a feeling of constipation or a sense of incomplete evacuation or blood in the stool. A variety of circumstances can cause constipation, including thyroid problems or electrolyte levels, but sometimes the reason is unknown. Since colon cancer can also cause changes, it's important to speak with your doctor if there's a sudden change in your bowel movements. In addition to eating a healthy diet that includes fibre-rich foods, reducing stress, exercising and drinking lots of water will help promote regular healthy bowel movements."