My hair color changed only after I became sick. Although genetic graying runs in my family, I believe nutritional deficiencies––most likely protein or B12––expedited the process.
After seeing a doctor at an urgent care in July 2016, I thought many of my nutritional problems resulted from a gluten intolerance. However, I eventually noticed I couldn’t eat anything––gluten or not. I fought a degenerative condition of some sort, but I didn’t know which specific one at the time.
Later on, I noticed something very wrong. Bald spots appeared on my head. Okay, I told myself. You’re 20. Graying is one thing, but no normal 20-year-old female should lose that much hair at such a young age. That’s when I finally bit the bullet and found a PCP.
My doctor told me I had alopecia areata (My response––ala what? I googled several variations before I figured out the correct spelling). It’s a skin disease that can cause hair balding. However, he told my hair could possibly regrow (thankfully, it did, but it grew back gray).
The balding you see in this picture was only the beginning and worsened over time. It occurred at a time when I basically ate nothing, so I knew it came from nutritional problems, I forced myself to eat at least a meal a day, even if that meant drinking smoothies and protein shakes as supplemental energy.
I often had intense stomach cramps because I couldn’t digest anything properly. My stomach treated even normal stuff like Greek yogurt as a foreign substance. I once had the worst stomach pain ever after eating a mixed greens salad. Meat was even worse. For the longest time, I hardly ate any kind of meat or heavy food, which probably made me even more protein, iron, and calcium deficient.
I’ve always shed quite a bit of hair, but clumps appeared in my brush. I’d run my hair through my fingers and pull out several strands. These are early warning signs of a bigger health problem. Don’t wait if you notice signs like the ones this article from ABC mentions. Get help now. Waiting only exacerbates the problem, results in misery, and raises health bills. Take care of yourself before it’s too late.