NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Health problems can often go undiagnosed, but what if someone told you that discovering something that might happen in your future could be as easy as looking in the mirror today.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, hair is much more than cosmetic. It turns out that hair can actually provide important clues about your overall health, from conditions that aren’t too serious to the potentially deadly.

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“You have to be attuned and willing to listen to it,” hair specialist Dr. Robert Dorin said.

One of his patients, Jenna Milazzo, is only in her 20s and started losing her hair at an alarming rate.

He suspected a physical problem, and blood tests showed that Milazzo’s hair loss was caused by a serious iron deficiency. Once her diet improved, her hair started to come back.

“It’s fuller, it’s thicker, I’m not pulling out hair as I run my fingers through it,” she said.

The hair can indicate even far more serious problems. A recent study published in the journal ‘Stress’ found that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in hair roots can significantly predict the likelihood of a heart attack.

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“It was actually the sub group of patients who had heart attacks who had the highest levels of cortisol levels in their hair follicles,” Dr. Daniel Yadager said.

Unexplained hair loss can indicate the presence of a thyroid disorder, hormone irregularities, and autoimmune diseases like lupus that are ultimately diagnosed through blood, urine, or other tests.

For the average person, losing up to about 100 hairs a day is actually normal and nothing to worry about, but if it’s coming out at a faster rate you should check with your doctor.

“If you start to lose more than that on a daily basis it starts to add up, that’s the time to see a specialist to question if it’s medically related,” Dr. Dorin said.

Fans of CSI know that hair can be analyzed for toxic levels of heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and mercury. Even something as common as dandruff can be due to simple dry scalp, eczema, or even psoriasis.

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