The Relationship Between Thyroid & Diabetes

by | Dec 14, 2022

Thyroid disorders and diabetes are the two most common conditions that endocrinologists treat worldwide. Endocrine disorder describes a group of diseases that affects the production and release of hormones. Studies show that people living with one of these conditions may be at a higher risk of developing the other.

It means that those with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome pose a high risk of developing thyroid disease. And on the flip side, having thyroid disease increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes. This association is stronger among those who are overweight or obese. So it is not uncommon to see someone having both thyroid disease and diabetes.

Here is more on this relationship between thyroid and diabetes and what to expect.

Thyroid Disorders and Diabetes

The thyroid gland, the butterfly-shaped organ at the base of the neck, plays a key role in regulating many of the body’s functions. This includes metabolism, which is how your body uses energy. It is also responsible for secreting hormones that regulate a person’s metabolism.

As thyroid disorders mainly interfere with your body’s metabolism, blood sugar, which would normally be used for energy, if you didn’t have thyroid, starts accumulating – thereby increasing your blood sugar levels.

It also makes it harder to regulate blood sugar (glucose) at healthy levels and places pre-diabetes and those who do not have diabetes at high risk for the condition.

Hyperthyroidism and Blood Sugar

Hyperthyroidism indicates an overactive thyroid gland that produces too much thyroid hormone and is closely linked with hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). At the same time, hyperglycemia caused by a thyroid disorder can easily stimulate metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome represents a cluster of five conditions: high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and a large waist (which increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke). When left, untreated metabolic syndrome can quickly progress to type 2 diabetes.

Excess production of thyroid hormones also increases lipolysis and secretion of both insulin and glucagon. The sum of these effects on the body deteriorates glucose metabolism, leading to glucose intolerance and then causing diabetes.

According to a 2016 review, an excess of glucagon (a hormone that the pancreas releases when a person experiences hypoglycemia or blood sugar levels that are too low) is the key factor in the development of diabetes.

Thyroid Disorders And Insulin

Insulin is the hormone that makes it possible for cells to use glucose for energy to lower blood sugar levels. Thyroid disorders interfere with the production of this insulin hormone as well.

Hyperthyroidism increases metabolism, causing insulin to be released from the body faster than usual, increasing both blood sugar levels and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes people who take insulin shots may also need higher doses, as it becomes difficult to regulate blood sugar at ideal levels.

Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) decreases metabolism, causing insulin to linger and drop blood sugar levels too much (hypoglycemia). People with diabetes that are on insulin or other medications can experience this drop to extreme levels, causing dizziness, disorientation, and unconsciousness.

Prevention And Management

If you have been diagnosed with either thyroid disease or diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to prevent other conditions.

And for those experiencing both thyroid disorders and diabetes, a healthy intervention of medication, diet, exercise, and sleep is essential to avoid further complications. Your diabetes or thyroid doctor can guide you through an effective treatment plan depending on your health profile.

At Glucare,

as the only specialty one-stop-shop facility for endocrinology and metabolic diseases in the United Arab Emirates, we provide the highest quality care for patients with endocrine and metabolic disorders like thyroid conditions and diabetes.

Compared to traditional hospitals, getting served at a specialty center like ours takes significantly less wait time, less risk, improved care team interactions, real-time laboratory results, instant imaging, and access to a specialty pharmacy.

Our team of specialists, alongside the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence), machine learning, and continuous metabolic monitoring (CMM), works closely with specialists in ophthalmology, bariatric surgery, thyroid surgery, obstetrics, and other specialty areas to provide a multidisciplinary approach to endocrinology management and to empower patients to make sustainable lifestyle changes.

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