What Is the Connection Between Diabetes and the Thyroid?

What Is the Connection Between Diabetes and the Thyroid?

There are more than 50 hormones in the human body, and they act as chemical messengers that manage a wide number of functions, from regulating hunger to governing reproduction. 

When you have a hormone disorder, it affects very specific areas of your health. But there is potential for crossover, which is certainly the case with diabetes and thyroid disease.

To shed some light on the link between diabetes and thyroid disease — and it’s a two-way street — board-certified endocrinologist and internal medicine specialist Dr. Sean P. Nikravan and our team present this brief summary.

Diabetes and insulin

Under normal circumstances, your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that’s responsible for picking up glucose (sugar) in your blood and delivering it to your body’s cells. It also signals your liver to store glucose. 

There are two issues that can affect this process:

The end result of both types of diabetes is that you can’t safely regulate the levels of sugar in your blood, which can lead to serious health issues.

Thyroid disease

Your thyroid is a gland at the base of your neck that produces thyroid hormones that regulate, among other things:

When you have a disease of the thyroid, production of your thyroid hormones can be affected and lead to either an increase in production (hyperthyroidism) or a decrease in production (hypothyroidism). Both of these issues can lead to significant side effects on opposite ends of the spectrum — losing weight (hyperthyroidism) or gaining weight (hypothyroidism), as examples.

The two-way link between diabetes and thyroid disease

While you may think the connection between diabetes and thyroid disease isn’t an obvious one, mounting evidence suggests otherwise. For example, one study reports that 17%-30% of adults with Type 1 diabetes also develop thyroid dysfunction, and thyroid dysfunction is more prevalent in people with Type 2 diabetes than in people who don’t have the disease.

If you have Type 2 diabetes and you develop hyperthyroidism, this malfunction can make your diabetes worse by encouraging more insulin resistance and poorer glucose regulation. This may also be a threat for people with thyroid disease and prediabetes.

There’s much that researchers still don’t understand about the exact cause-and-effect mechanism behind the two-way link between diabetes and your thyroid, but it appears that issues with metabolism can collide with glucose regulation.

Treating both diabetes and thyroid disease

If you’ve developed both diabetes and thyroid disease, it’s important that you seek the help of an endocrinologist who specializes in these crossover conditions. If you treat each condition separately, you run the risk of negatively impacting the other.

Dr. Nikravan has extensive experience with both conditions, and he understands better than most how the two are linked and which treatments work best together to manage both issues at the same time.

If you have more questions about the link between diabetes and your thyroid, please contact our office in Newport Beach, California, to set up a consultation. You can also request an appointment through this website.

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