Connection between diabetes and thyroid

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
May 26, 2015

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Quick Bites

  • Diabetes and thyroid are associated.
  • Excessive thyroid hormone secretion is hyperthyroidism.
  • Thyroid dysfunction takes place in 1/3 diabetes patients.
  • Symptoms can be similar.

Diabetes and thyroid disorders have a close association with one another; diabetics have more prevalence of thyroid disorders when compared with non-diabetics. Thyroid affects endocrine system in the same way as diabetes does. Thyroid disorders are a result of improper functioning of the thyroid gland, which is responsible for secretion of hormones that promotes growth and development, cell nutrient uses and reproduction. One’s thyroid plays a crucial role in the regulation of metabolism. If the thyroid gland functions improperly, a person’s blood sugar levels suffer majorly thereby, increasing the chances of diabetic complications.

Diabetes and Thyroid Association

Secretion of thyroid hormone

Located in the neck, thyroid gland secretes hormones - thyroxin, referred to as T4, and triiodothyroidnine, which is called T3. Present in the bloodstream, these hormones affect metabolism of the liver, heart and muscles. Thyroid gland not only secretes hormones but also controls our body temperature, blood pressure, dryness of skin, menstrual cycles, weight, cholesterol levels and other hormones. Pituitary gland is another gland involved in the stimulation of the thyroid hormone.

Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism

If there is an abnormally low thyroid production, it can result in hypothyroidism. When thyroid gland secretes excess of thyroid hormones, a condition called hyperthyroidism occurs. People having hyperthyroidism have glucose intolerance and hypothyroidism is associated with insulin resistance. An excess of secretion of the thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) worsens diabetes as it increases insulin requirement of the body thereby, causing a disturbance in glucose control of the body.

Dysfunctioning of thyroid


Various studies have shown that thyroid dysfunctions are prevalent in about 1/3 of patients suffering from type 1 diabetes.  A prevalence of both- type 1 diabetes and thyroid problems results in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or anaemia.  Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are equally prevalent in type 2 diabetics as they are in non-diabetics.

Diabetes and Thyroid Association

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in type 1 diabetics are weight loss though there is increased appetite, poorly controlled diabetes, fatigue and nausea. Indications of hypothyroidism in type 2 diabetics are weight gain, feeling cold, dry skin, weakened hair and constipation. A type-2 diabetic with hypothyroidism is unable to do a lot of physical activity and feels tired in no time.



Sometimes, thyroid symptoms go undiagnosed as they are similar to the symptoms of diabetes. Untreated thyroid malfunctioning majorly impacts diabetes control therefore, it is important for diabetics to get themselves checked for thyroid disorders in every 2 years. Both diabetes and thyroid can be treated with physical exercises, yoga and a right diet. Diet of a person suffering from both the complications must be carefully planned so it should not disturb the thyroid functioning as well as blood glucose level.

Image source: Getty Images

Read more articles on Understand Diabetes.


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