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Is Balding Considered a Disease? How To Classify Male Pattern Hair Loss

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Male pattern hair loss is very common, with right around 30-50% of men by age 50 experiencing some level of this hereditary form of hair loss.

But, is male pattern hair loss considered a disease?

Below, we will cover how to classify male pattern hair loss in medical terms, including the situations where male pattern hair loss may be signaling issues in the body, and which diseases may have a connection with early hair loss in men.

Is male pattern hair loss considered a disease?

Male pattern hair loss itself is not considered a disease state, although it may worsen or be loosely correlated with certain diseases (more on that later).

If you were to put a medical label on male pattern hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia, it would probably be described as a condition. More specifically, male pattern hair loss is a condition that develops based on your genetic makeup and your predisposed sensitivity to the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone).

Also, while male pattern hair loss is not considered a disease, other forms of hair loss like alopecia areata are considered diseases. Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that is autoimmune-mediated. With alopecia areata, your body erroneously attacks your hair follicles, causing hair to fall out rapidly in rounded patches.

While most cases of hair loss in men are due to androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss), if you are not sure which type of hair loss you are dealing with, you can talk to a doctor to help figure out what might be going on.

When might hair loss be signifying a health condition?

Male pattern hair loss normally develops in a slow, incremental, and distinct pattern in which the front hairline, temples, and crown of the head thin and recede with time.

However, if you are experiencing hair loss that develops very quickly, has more of an overall thinning pattern, and makes you feel like lots of hairs are falling out very rapidly even with gentle handling, you could be dealing with something else. 

Telogen effluvium is a hair loss pattern that develops not because of your genetics, but because of a strong physical or psychological stressor. Telogen effluvium occurs when a strong stressor signals more hairs than usual to shift into the telogen (resting/pre-shedding phase) prematurely, leading to extreme shedding events a few months after a stressful period in your life.

If you are experiencing shedding more in line with telogen effluvium, it could be signaling that there is something else amiss in your body, and it is important to let your doctor know. Luckily, for most people, once the stressor is removed or corrected, your hair may recover back to normal after telogen effluvium.

Strong physical or psychological stressors which could trigger telogen effluvium may include:

  • High fevers
  • Giving birth
  • Severe chronic illness
  • Severe infections
  • Major surgery or illness
  • Intense psychological stress
  • Untreated thyroid disorders
  • Crash diets with inadequate protein
  • Rapid weight loss

Is hair loss associated with higher risks of certain diseases?

So, male pattern hair loss itself is not a disease state. But, some studies are now finding some potential connections between men experiencing male pattern hair loss and certain diseases.

One study from 2013, found that there may be a connection between men with androgenetic alopecia and having an increased risk of coronary artery disease. While more studies need to be done to confirm this potential connection, it may be a useful bit of information to help men with male pattern hair loss make healthy lifestyle changes early on in life to potentially help reduce the risks of developing cardiac diseases later. The study suggests that these connections may be stronger in those who started experiencing male pattern hair loss at younger ages.

According to a 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of 15 studies that had looked into connections between male pattern hair loss and prostate cancer risk, there was no significant association between baldness (in any pattern) and prostate cancer risks. However, there was a significant association between vertex baldness (commonly seen with male pattern hair loss) and prostate cancer risk.

However, more studies need to be done to confirm these potential connections between hair loss and other diseases.

Strut Health male pattern hair loss treatments prescribed online

Here at Strut, we understand the stress and loss of confidence that can come along with hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia, even if it technically is not considered a disease. So, we try to make the process of getting prescription treatment easier.

We offer oral and topical hair loss treatments containing ingredients like Finasteride, Minoxidil, Dutasteride, Tretinoin, and Biotin, depending on your goals and preferences.

If you are interested in seeing if a hair loss treatment is a good plan for you, you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based telemedicine consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today. If you are a good candidate for treatment, your medication can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping.

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