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Thyroid disease and diabetes – symptoms, tests, and treatment options

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Thyroid disease and diabetes often go hand in hand, and thyroid disease can have a huge impact on diabetes and overall health, so it’s important to keep an eye on it.

by American Thyroid Association (ATA)more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid disease during their lifetime.

Although thyroid problems are common and easily tested, symptoms and test results can be overlooked or mistaken for other conditions. This can make accurate diagnosis difficult.

This article explains the relationship between the thyroid and diabetes. What is thyroid disease, what are the symptoms, how to get a thyroid test, how thyroid tests affect diabetes, how to treat thyroid disease, and more.

Woman holding her throat and showing the location of the thyroid gland

Key Point:

  • Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce enough hormones. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when the thyroid gland becomes overactive and produces too many hormones. Both conditions affect your body’s metabolism and can have a major impact on your overall health.
  • Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism each have their own unique symptoms. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include unexplained weight gain, depression, increased sensitivity to cold, and low blood pressure. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is characterized by unexplained weight loss, anxiety, heat intolerance, and high blood pressure.
  • Diabetic patients have a higher incidence of thyroid disease. Although type 1 diabetes often coexists with autoimmune thyroid disease, the relationship with type 2 diabetes is less direct but may be influenced by factors such as weight gain.
  • Regular thyroid testing is recommended for people with diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes. Treatment options vary depending on the type of thyroid disease, ranging from drug therapy to more complex treatments such as radioactive iodine therapy and surgery.

table of contents

Thyroid gland and its function

The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. It is located at the lower front of the neck.

This gland plays an important role in regulating many things in the body, including weight, energy, blood pressure, heart rate, mood, menstrual cycles, sexual desire, and even memory.

Types of thyroid disease

Thyroid disease develops when the production of thyroid hormones is impaired. The thyroid gland either produces too little thyroid hormone (called hypothyroidism) or produces too much thyroid hormone (called hyperthyroidism).

Causes of hyperthyroidism include Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules, and thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland). Hyperthyroidism is the less common of the two diseases, with only 0.5% of people having type 1 diabetes. become hyperthyroid.

Hypothyroidism is more common — Both in general society And also in the diabetic population. The most common cause is called Hashimoto’s disease.

Although the reason is unknown, women 5 to 8 times more likely They are more likely to develop thyroid problems than men.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism

The thyroid plays a key role in regulating how the body uses energy and influences the function of every organ.

Therefore, an imbalance in thyroid hormone production, whether too much or too little, can have serious health implications. These imbalances affect the body’s metabolic rate, which can affect everything from heart rate to body temperature.

The symptoms experienced by these conditions vary from person to person. You may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

  • Unexplained weight gain
  • chronic fatigue
  • low blood pressure and slow pulse rate
  • depression
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • constipation
  • stinging skin
  • Irregular menstruation
  • low sexual desire
  • short term memory loss
  • muscle spasms
  • hair loss and thinning hair
  • dry and rough skin

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • chronic fatigue
  • High blood pressure and increased pulse rate
  • anxiety
  • Heat-resistant
  • diarrhea
  • itchy skin and hives
  • light period
  • low sexual desire
  • decreased concentration
  • muscle weakness
  • hair loss and thinning hair
  • smooth, warm, or moist skin

How are diabetes and thyroid disease related?

spread of Thyroid disease in type 2 diabetics Higher than the general population, 17 to 30 percent of people with type 1 diabetes have thyroid disease.

This is in sharp contrast to the general U.S. population, where only 12% develop thyroid disease.

In other words, people living with diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop thyroid disease than the general population.

However, that does not mean that diabetes causes thyroid disease or vice versa.

Are type 2 diabetes and thyroid disease related?

As far as we know, there is no direct link between type 2 diabetes and thyroid disease..

The reason so many people live with both thyroid disease and type 2 diabetes is because they are the most common endocrine diseases in the United States, says M.D., MBA, FACP, FACE, ECNU Medical said R. Mack Harrell, Image Director. Memorial Center for Integrated Endocrine Surgery Past President of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

However, there may be an “indirect” link between thyroid disease and type 2 diabetes, as factors such as weight gain can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Weight gain caused by hypothyroidism can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

some research It has been shown that people with prediabetes are 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if their hypothyroidism is untreated.

Are type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease related?

Like type 1 diabetes, most types of thyroid disease are autoimmune diseases. Unfortunately, if he has one autoimmune disease, research result It means you are more likely to develop others.

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. In some types of thyroid disease, the immune system attacks thyroid cells.

Why people develop autoimmune diseases is not well understood, but there are many theories.

in interview, Lowell Schmeltz, MD, FACE, Associate Professor, William Beaumont School of Medicine Fellow, University of Oakland, American College of Endocrinology. ”

Although research has not shown that type 1 diabetes actually causes thyroid disease, thyroid disease typically develops at some point in the following years after diabetes is first diagnosed.

Can thyroid problems affect blood sugar levels?

Thyroid disease can have a major impact on diabetes management and can increase your risk of developing diabetes complications.

One reason thyroid disease may be detected in people with diabetes is if their blood sugar levels suddenly (and continuously) become very unstable and difficult to manage.

If the thyroid hormone production is not working properly, Obvious effects on metabolismmay indirectly affect blood sugar levels.

Although a direct link between hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia is not fully established, this condition can cause changes in the way the body metabolizes glucose. Hypothyroidism can slow down your metabolism, which can affect how glucose is used and stored, which can affect blood sugar management.

Hypothyroidism is associated with changes in insulin sensitivity. In some cases, it can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity, meaning the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin.

This insulin resistance makes it difficult for the body to lower blood sugar levels, which can lead to hyperglycemia. The decreased metabolism associated with hypothyroidism also means that glucose may be processed more slowly, which can affect overall blood sugar control.

On the other hand, hyperthyroidism can increase the body’s metabolic rate, which can increase the need for insulin due to increased energy expenditure.

This increased demand for insulin can make blood sugar control difficult. In some cases, the body may not be able to compensate for the increased need for insulin, and blood sugar levels may become high.

It appears that blood sugar levels may also affect thyroid function. Hyperglycemia associated with hyperthyroidism is contribute to Metabolic syndrome is a collection of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides (blood fats), low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and a large waist. If metabolic syndrome is not treated, it can develop into type 2 diabetes.

research additionally It suggests that Insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, may also be associated with the development of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

When should I get tested for thyroid disease?

of american diabetes association Medical standards for diabetes — 2024 recommends frequent screening for thyroid disease in people with type 1 diabetes.

People with type 1 diabetes should be tested for autoimmune thyroid disease after diagnosis and have regular follow-up tests (every 1 to 2 years) even if they don’t have symptoms of thyroid disease.

There are no screening guidelines per se for people living with type 2 diabetes. However, some recommend that women over age 50 with type 2 diabetes should be regularly tested for thyroid disease.

How to test for thyroid disease

In many cases, all that is needed is a thyroid blood test (biomarkers: TSH, T3, and T4). It may also make sense for people with type 1 diabetes to get tested for thyroid antibodies.

You can be tested for thyroid disease by visiting your doctor and ordering a blood test. In some cases, a physical exam and a scan of the thyroid itself may also be recommended.

How to treat thyroid disease

If your test results come back outside the normal range, you should discuss treatment options with your doctor. The good news is that thyroid disease is generally very easy to treat.

If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you are likely to be given daily tablets such as levothyroxine (brand names include Synthroid, L-thyroxine, and Unithroid), which contain synthetic human thyroid hormone.

Your doctor may need to adjust your dose several times until your thyroid hormone levels are back within range. For most people, this is a chronic disease, so the dose may need to be adjusted several times over the years.

Any unpleasant symptoms may indicate that you need to adjust your thyroid medication dosage with the help of your medical team.

Treatment for hyperthyroidism is a little more complicated and may include drug therapy, radioactive iodine treatment (which reduces excess cells in the thyroid gland and prevents it from producing high levels of hormones), surgery, or a combination of these. In some cases, hyperthyroidism resolves on its own.

In either case, maintain a healthy diet by getting enough sleep, regular physical activity, eating a balanced and nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular check-ups as recommended by your medical team. Lifestyle changes can also help both your thyroid health and your thyroid health. General happiness.

final thoughts

If you have diabetes, it’s important to keep an eye on your thyroid health as well. Thyroid disease and diabetes often go together and can affect your daily mood.

For people with diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes, it’s a good idea to have your thyroid checked regularly, as problems can creep up on you without any obvious symptoms at first.

It may seem difficult to treat thyroid problems and diabetes at the same time, but it’s all about finding the right balance. This means taking all prescribed medications, making changes to your daily routine as needed, and tracking how you’re feeling.

Everyone’s body reacts a little differently, so what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. That’s why it’s so important to speak openly with your medical team and let them know what’s going on with you.

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