Health-care pros tell us their pa­tients’ most-asked ques­tions. This is­sue, our ex­perts talk about hair shed­ding and bowel move­ments.

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Doc­tors dis­cuss 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. Beach 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.

Up Other cul­prits can in­clude thy­roid

to 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. Zen­lea 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.”

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