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In the area of treating diabetes and helping with weight loss, there’s a new medicine making headlines called Mounjaro (Tirzepatide). It’s getting a lot of attention because it can help control blood sugar and assist in weight loss, which is good news for many people. But, whenever there’s a new medicine, people start wondering if there are any negative side effects.

One concern that’s come up is whether Mounjaro might cause hair loss. This article aims to investigate this issue by looking at what scientific studies have found and by listening to the experiences of people who have taken the medicine.

girl with comb having hair loss due to mounjaroWhat is Mounjaro (Tirzepatide)

Mounjaro (tirzepatide) is available in doses of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, and 15 mg per 0.5 mL for injection and is prescribed for adults with type 2 diabetes as part of a diet and exercise regimen to help control blood sugar levels. Its use in individuals with a history of pancreatitis is uncertain. Mounjaro is not intended for individuals with type 1 diabetes and its safety and effectiveness in children under 18 have not been established.

This medication is uniquely designed to target the receptors for glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), making it a novel class of drug for adults with type 2 diabetes. By activating these specific pathways, Mounjaro works in a unique way to help manage blood sugar.

Can Mounjaro Lead to Hair Loss?

Hair loss isn’t officially recognized as a side effect of Mounjaro. However, during the clinical trials for tirzepatide, which led to its approval, a few participants did report losing hair. Eli Lilly, the company behind Mounjaro, has mentioned that hair loss has been observed in previous clinical trials for weight loss treatments but believes the occurrences during Mounjaro trials weren’t significant enough to cause concern.

On the other hand, Zepbound, another drug, clearly states hair loss as a possible side effect. Here’s why that might be:

  • In research focused on using tirzepatide for obesity, about 6% of people taking the highest dose reported experiencing some form of hair loss, known medically as alopecia.
  • As a result, Zepbound includes hair loss as a noted side effect on its packaging.

For those wondering about other medications, Ozempic does not mention hair loss as a side effect, whereas Wegovy does. Specifically, 4% of patients using a 2.4 mg dose of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Wegovy, reported hair loss, compared to none of the placebo group.

What is Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a common form of temporary hair loss that happens after stress, a shock, or a traumatic event. It typically affects the top of the scalp. Normally, hair goes through three main phases: growth, rest, and shedding. In telogen effluvium, a large number of hairs enter the resting (telogen) phase at the same time, but they don’t fall out until a few months later, usually when you’re washing, combing, or touching your hair.

This condition can be triggered by various factors, including severe stress, illness, major surgery, rapid weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, or certain medications. Unlike some other types of hair loss, telogen effluvium is usually reversible. The hair may start to grow back once the underlying cause is addressed. However, it might take several months for hair thickness and health to return to normal.

Does Hair Loss Happen Permanently?

The cause determines whether hair loss is temporary or permanent. Sometimes there is temporary hair loss due to conditions like telogen effluvium, which is frequently brought on by stress or sickness. Hair typically begins to grow back once the underlying reason is treated, and the problem frequently goes away on its own without having a lasting impact on hair density.

However, some diseases, such as androgenetic alopecia, also referred to as male or female pattern baldness, result in irreversible hair loss. This kind of genetic hair loss causes a slow thinning of hair that eventually can result in baldness. Hormonal levels can affect the course and severity of androgenetic alopecia, which varies from person to person.

How Medications Can Potentially Lead to Hair Loss

Medications can potentially lead to hair loss through several mechanisms, affecting the hair growth cycle. The hair growth cycle consists of three main phases: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transition phase), and telogen (resting phase). Medications can disrupt this cycle, leading to increased hair shedding or slower hair growth.

  • Anagen Effluvium: This type occurs more quickly than telogen effluvium, usually within days or weeks of starting the medication. It affects the hairs in the anagen phase, causing them to stop growing and fall out. This type of hair loss is often associated with chemotherapy drugs, which aggressively target rapidly dividing cells, including hair follicle cells.
  • Hormonal Imbalance: Some medications can cause hormonal imbalances that lead to hair loss. For example, drugs that alter the balance of androgens and estrogens in the body can affect hair growth. An excess of androgens, for example, can lead to hair thinning.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Certain medications can interfere with the absorption of nutrients essential for healthy hair growth, such as iron, zinc, and vitamins. A deficiency in these nutrients can result in hair loss.
  • Immune System Effects: Some drugs, particularly those that modulate the immune system, can lead to hair loss by causing the body to mistakenly attack hair follicle cells, leading to hair loss.
  • Physical Stress: Medications that are particularly harsh on the body can cause physical stress, leading to hair loss. This is because significant stress on the body can push hair follicles into the resting phase.

It’s important to note that not everyone will experience hair loss from medications, as individual responses vary. If you’re concerned about hair loss related to medication, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider. They can help determine if the medication is the likely cause and discuss possible alternatives or solutions.

When Usually Hair Loss Begins

Hair loss associated with medications such as Mounjaro, Zepbound, Ozempic, or Wegovy typically starts to occur about 2 to 3 months after beginning the treatment. This timeline is often aligned with the period when individuals experience significant weight loss due to these medications. In the initial stages, particularly during the first few weeks, the medication dosage is usually adjusted upwards in a stepwise manner. During this adjustment phase, weight loss may not be noticeably rapid or may not even be evident yet.

The reason for the delay in noticeable hair loss is related to the hair growth cycle, which includes phases of growth, transition, and rest. When a body undergoes a significant change, such as rapid weight loss triggered by these medications, it can cause a larger number of hair follicles to enter the resting (telogen) phase.

However, the hair in the telogen phase doesn’t fall out immediately; there’s a delay before these hairs are shed. That’s why hair loss becomes noticeable a few months after the start of the medication, once the body has reacted to the changes induced by the medication and weight loss.

Ways to Prevent and Address Hair Loss

To prevent and address hair loss, consider a diet rich in nutrients that promote hair growth, like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E. Foods such as salmon, avocados, nuts, and seeds are beneficial. Avoid harsh chemical treatments and reduce the use of heat styling tools to prevent damage. Opt for gentle hair care routines, avoiding tight hairstyles that pull on the scalp. Managing stress through activities like yoga or meditation can also help, as stress is a known trigger for hair loss. If hair loss persists, consult a healthcare provider to explore underlying causes and treatment options.

Comparing Mounjaro to Other Diabetes Medications

Considering Mounjaro’s mode of action, effectiveness, side effects, and purpose in managing diabetes—especially with other commonly prescribed treatments—is necessary when contrasting it with other diabetes drugs. When compared to other treatments, Mounjaro (tirzepatide) offers unique characteristics that make it a unique strategy to managing diabetes.

Mechanism of Action

  • Mounjaro (Tirzepatide): A unique aspect of Mounjaro is its dual-action mechanism. It activates both the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptors. This dual receptor action is designed to improve blood sugar control more effectively than medications targeting only one pathway, and it also aids in weight loss.
  • Other Diabetes Medications: Most other diabetes treatments, such as metformin, sulfonylureas, and SGLT2 inhibitors, have different mechanisms of action. For instance, metformin improves insulin sensitivity and decreases glucose production in the liver. SGLT2 inhibitors help lower blood glucose levels by promoting the excretion of glucose through urine. GLP-1 receptor agonists, like liraglutide (Victoza) and semaglutide (Ozempic), mimic the incretin hormones to stimulate insulin release in response to high blood sugar levels, but they do not target GIP receptors.

Effectiveness

  • Mounjaro: Clinical trials have shown that Mounjaro not only effectively lowers blood sugar levels but also contributes to significant weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes. This dual benefit is particularly valuable for individuals with diabetes who are also overweight or obese.
  • Other Medications: While other diabetes medications can also lower blood sugar levels effectively, their impact on weight varies. For example, metformin is weight-neutral or may slightly decrease weight, whereas SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists are associated with weight loss. However, sulfonylureas and insulin often lead to weight gain.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of mounjaro include gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, similar to GLP-1 receptor agonists. The long-term effects and safety profile are continuously being studied. Side effects vary widely among diabetes medications, from gastrointestinal issues (common with GLP-1 receptor agonists and metformin) to risks of urinary tract infections (with SGLT2 inhibitors) and hypoglycemia (particularly with sulfonylureas and insulin).

Summary

While there have been reports of hair loss among users of tirzepatide (and semaglutide), further investigation is required to confirm if this is a direct side effect of the medications or if it results from the metabolic changes due to the quick weight loss they induce. Importantly, the incidence of hair loss observed in clinical trials for Mounjaro wasn’t deemed substantial enough to be listed as a side effect in the medication’s official documentation. Additionally, many individuals who have experienced hair loss while taking Mounjaro found that the condition was temporary.

It’s important to be aware of all possible side effects when taking any medication, but the likelihood of experiencing hair loss with Mounjaro is relatively low. For most users, it shouldn’t be a deterrent from continuing the medication. However, it’s crucial to communicate any concerns with your healthcare provider.

If you’re looking for Mounjaro (tirzepatide) or Ozempic (semaglutide) at a competitive price, the experienced and helpful staff at 365 Script Care is ready to assist you. Reach out to us for more information!

 

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