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Diabetes' Connection to Thyroid Disease

As far back as the early 1900s, doctors had confirmed a solid connection between thyroid disease and diabetes. Among adults without diabetes, approximately 6.6% have thyroid disease, but in adults with diabetes, up to 13.4% have thyroid disease, making it clear that these two conditions can go hand-in-hand. Both thyroid disease and diabetes are endocrine disorders (hormone-related health conditions), and when they occur together, they can affect how your body responds to medications. This is important—if thyroid disease goes undiagnosed in people with diabetes, it can make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. The two types of thyroid disease are:

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Hypothyroidism slows metabolism, which may lead diabetes medications to linger in the body and/or remain active longer than expected. This can cause unanticipated drops in blood sugar levels.
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Hyperthyroidism can cause the opposite to occur. Metabolism runs more quickly, and medications go through the body more quickly. Your usual dosage may not stay in the body long enough to control blood sugar levels. Also consider that some symptoms—such as sweating or having tremors—can result from either hyperthyroidism or low blood sugar. If you have these symptoms, you might assume you have low blood sugar and try to eat more to correct it, which can then cause high blood sugar if the cause of the symptoms is really hyperthyroidism. Using your blood glucose meter to test your levels can help you avoid this problem.

For all of these reasons, it’s vital to work with your doctor to manage your health, and adjust medications as needed to ensure optimal blood sugar control. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor about thyroid disease so you can get checked for it.

Source: Diabetes Spectrum

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