TE caused by flu

Discussions about the diffuse thinning experienced by women, usually after menopause
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Kay
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 9:01 am

TE caused by flu

Post by Kay »

Hi

I believe I am suffering from TE caused by flu. I wondered if anyone else had experienced this? My hair started to shed around 6 weeks ago, although for the first couple of weeks I didn't pay much attention/think too much of it. But I grew more concerned as it continued and the volume of hair being lost seemed excessive. At first I noticed more in the plughole and coming out in my hands when washing my hair, then I started to realise it was shedding constantly. I went to the doctors they ordered blood tests (for anaemia/full blood count, glucose, thyroid, hormones etc.) which all came back normal.

I am 35, female, with no past experience of hair loss, in fact I normally have really long thick hair. It appears to be TE as it came on suddenly, appears excessive, and the hair loss is diffuse, with shed hairs showing the white bulb at the end.

It began approx. 7-8 weeks after the onset of what I believe was flu/a similar virus. I get coughs and colds often, but had never had flu in my adult life until then. I felt pretty unwell for about two weeks, the first week being particularly bad with a constant severe cough that prevented me from sleeping, going very cold then hot/sweating, and feeling exhausted/generally awful. Even after the initial couple of weeks the cough lingered for a couple more weeks, over which time it gradually got better.

I cannot think of anything that could have triggered the TE other than this. I did change jobs just over 6 months before it began but this was my choice, and my new job has been going really well. I don't believe it is stress related as other than that nothing of note has happened in recent months, and I have had far more stressful times in my life which have not caused hair loss. I have never been wiped out with flu like that before though.

The amount of hair I am losing is really starting to concern me. I believe 500-700 hairs per day on days when I wash my hair (Which is every other day at the moment). And probably 200-300 on the days in between. My hair is now much thinner than normal, although I have no bald patches/obvious areas of visible scalp yet. I fear this is imminent though.

My doctor had just told me to wait a couple more months and if it continues they will refer me to a dermatologist (this is in the UK via NHS). Is this the best advice or should I just go private now?

With TE as a result of flu or similar, how long is shedding likely to last? As a result of a very short term illness, I was hoping it would be very brief?

Any advice or info is much appreciated.

Thanks
Tom Hagerty
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Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:21 am

Re: TE caused by flu

Post by Tom Hagerty »

It [TE] began approx. 7-8 weeks after the onset of what I believe was flu/a similar virus.
The shedding usually begins two or three months after the trigger which probably was the flu virus. If your bout with the flu was long lasting, your body was under a lot of stress. And if you doctor gave you an antibiotic this could have added to the stress. Sometimes docs give antibiotics because a bacterial infection may follow the flu.

Your blood tests all came back normal. Did you have the test for serum ferritin? Having a strong serum ferritin level can quicken the recovery from TE. Between 40 and 70 nanograms per milliliter is ideal. Premenopausal women who eat little red meat often have serum ferritin levels in the single digits.
how long is shedding likely to last?
The standard answer to this is many months - 6 to 72. Of course "6 to 72" is really no answer. But if the shedding lasts over six months you should probably see a dermatologist. You live in the UK where trichologists abound. Trichologists do not have a good reputation, except for charging nice fees.
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Kay
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 9:01 am

Re: TE caused by flu

Post by Kay »

Hi Tom

Thanks for your reply.

I'm not sure what is classed as long lasting for flu but it probably took me two weeks to get over the worst of it, with the first week being pretty awful, but improving and returning to work thereafter. I did not take any antibiotics, I saw a doctor after 3-4 days who didnt run any tests, said it was probably flu and just advised to come back if it hadn't improved in a week (I never returned).

I have no idea if the blood tests included serum ferritin, but I have another doctors appointment next week so will check. I have been taking a 'hair vitamins' supplement for the last few weeks which includes iron, although I guess possibly not enough if I do have low levels.

Thanks for the advice re: trichologists.
Kay
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 9:01 am

Re: TE caused by flu

Post by Kay »

Hi

Just thought I would post an update as I didn't read many positive posts when I was searching for info.

A week or two after I made my original post I had my ferritin level tested, when I got the results a couple of weeks later it was 56 so probably not a major factor.

Around the same time as I went back to the doctor to get my ferritin levels tested I noticed the amount of hair I was losing seemed a bit less (but still more than normal) things continued to improve over the following three weeks or so, and about ten weeks or so after the shedding started it had stopped and was back to normal. My hair is a lot thinner than it was, but fortunately it was very thick to start with and probably very few people would notice the difference. Over the last few weeks I haven't had any more problems and now have lots of new hair growth visible.

Needless to say I am very relieved, and hoping I never catch flu again!
Jenvoy
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Re: TE caused by flu

Post by Jenvoy »

Kay wrote:Hi

Just thought I would post an update as I didn't read many positive posts when I was searching for info.

A week or two after I made my original post I had my ferritin level tested, when I got the results a couple of weeks later it was 56 so probably not a major factor.

Around the same time as I went back to the doctor to get my ferritin levels tested I noticed the amount of hair I was losing seemed a bit less (but still more than normal) things continued to improve over the following three weeks or so, and about ten weeks or so after the shedding started it had stopped and was back to normal. My hair is a lot thinner than it was, but fortunately it was very thick to start with and probably very few people would notice the difference. Over the last few weeks I haven't had any more problems and now have lots of new hair growth visible.

Needless to say I am very relieved, and hoping I never catch flu again!
Hi Kay!
Thank you for posting a positive update! It's nice to see in a see of negative posts about TE. I am going through TE right now due to a medication. My ferritin level is 42 currently and shedding more than usual. Thursday will be 3 months and I heard there is a gradual decrease until it stops completely. Sounds like this was the case for you? How long did YOUR TE last? Just curious.
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