The development of the Internet and the readily available data and information at the end of the 20th century (and especially at the beginning of the 21st century) created many opportunities as well as many challenges. Today, everyone can Google (or “Yandex") the symptoms, diagnoses and photos of the problem they have and get thousands of tips and treatment regimens in response.
But not everyone can correctly “guess" his own problem and choose an adequate treatment regimen. Unfortunately, in some cases differential diagnosis is not an easy thing, even at a face – to-face appointment and even for experienced medical doctors. The biggest problem is the quality of the information that is being poured on the (poor) consumer's head today.
There is a huge number of specialists on the Internet who call themselves “nutritionists" and “trichologists". Indeed, why do you need any (and even more so – medical) education today… But the question is whether 2-3-day courses are enough to further conquer the online space: marathons, therapy schemes “for everyone" and other delights of online “treatment". Both sad and funny at the same time – from the fact that such a specialist often not only treats and advises, but also teaches at once.
For the “hair loss" query Yandex cheerfully gives out thousands of recipes. And if some of the recipes can be considered harmless – burdock oil, black bread and onion masks, etc., then other, more “advanced" ways to “improve health" can worsen not only the condition of the hair, but also can significantly affect your general health.
Unique diets to promote fat “melting" (for some reasons these diets help you to promote hair shedding and to lose your periods as well) … Programs for body “health improvement" and hair “treatment" – 4 – 5 steps (who bids more?) of “cleansing", then – a multi-stage daily intake of dietary supplements, at least 20 – 30 (!)— and this is not an exaggeration – tablets/ capsules/ powder sachets – per day… At the same time, for some reason, ferritin should be – options: not lower than body weight, or not less than 200, or – “much better “- 300 µg/l.
Why do you need to increase your ferritin levels if the reference range is normal? The patient will look at you in surprise. Well, don't you know – the Instagram expert wrote that the ferritin level must be high, otherwise the hair will not grow, and – “don't you know, doc?" – everything must be treated from the inside (more about this). «Moreover, iron is very useful, as well as vitamins, and the more, the better».
But what about doctors who say that 1) for the hair (and not only hair, actually) treatment not always and not everyone needs vitamins, especially in mega-dosages, and 2) that without a good reason it is simply dangerous to raise the level of certain vitamins or trace elements above the limits of the reference range? Well, they are just “lazy, they do not want to deal with it and dig deeper» ©.
What happens in “fans of iron and dietary supplements"? After a period of taking dietary supplements with mega-doses of vitamins and trace elements, and increasing their iron level, they can feel a burst of energy (which does not always happen). But then something begins to happen in the body (for some reason). The tingling sensation in the right upper quadrant, nausea, GI tract (and stool) problems, the feeling of fatigue instead of energy, and sometimes – even walking difficulties… And instead of improving the hair condition, we get health deterioration, and it's good if it's temporary. That happens today.
But what happens tomorrow?
Unfortunately, very few people think about it. The clinical consequences of iron excess in the body do not depend on the etiology and pathophysiology of its occurrence. Whether we are talking about hereditary diseases (hemochromatosis), excessive intake of iron per os, or its intravenous, intramuscular administration, the consequences are the same. Excessive accumulation of iron in the body over time can lead to liver disease (which can lead to cirrhosis), to an increased risk of cancer, skin hyperpigmentation, diabetes, arthropathy, erectile dysfunction, and in some cases, heart failure.
I want to remind you that in case of intoxication (iron overload, etc.) it may take a long time for the body to recover, and the process may not always be successful And a short-term improvement in your health today may – in the future – lead to risks of liver and cardiovascular (and other) diseases, and even -to the occurrence of cancer …
Why am I talking about it? Patients with ferritin 200-250-300 µg/l follow each other every other day – after IV iron therapy, after “super wellness" schemes, with long lists of dietary supplements, and – with complaints about “sudden" gastrointestinal problems, hair loss (sometimes after a short – term improvement) , and so on…
If anemia is detected, if the iron deficiency exists – such cases must be treated. My post is about the problem of the conscious use of iron preparations for the sake of compliance with unproven “normal values “, or for short – term energy burst, without considering possible side effects of iron overload in the future.
To be continued…